The Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change

is a research museum of the Leibniz Association

Kathleen Dittrich

PhD student, DynaCom-Project
Tel: +49 228 9122-455
Fax: +49 228 9122-212
Mail: K.Dittrich [at]



Field of work

As part of the DynaCom-Project (see: Projects), I investigate trophic interactions of organisms in a saltmarsh ecosystem on the island Spiekeroog. Flooding and other weather phenomenons can lead to local extinction events of subpopulations from species. These events are usually followed by a recolonization with individuals from nearby subpopulations. A central topic of the DynaCom-Project is the investigation of specific traits in organisms that increase or decrease the likelihood of species extinction in an area, but also the recolonization by surrounding subpopulations. The project is divided into several subprojects, of which every part deals with an other aspect of the saltmarsh ecosystem.


The main focus of my project is on the trophic interactions of the terrestrial invertebrate community in the saltmarsh ecosystem. Terrestrial invertebrates, that are to a large extent arthropods, build a complex network of trophic interactions that repeatedly can be disturbed by environmental changes. I pay particular attention on the potential food resources that can be accessed by the arthropods. These investigations include a molecular analysis of the stomach content from ground beetles to identify plant- and animal species that serve as food resources for the beetles. Additionally, several invertebrate species will be investigated with a stable isotope analysis to determine the origin of their food resources (terrestrial or marine). These experiments will provide us an insight to the accessibility of food resources within the different areas of the saltmarsh ecosystem. In a further experiment, the activity of flying insects in dependence to different environmental parameters will be recorded by the use of camera monitoring. The resulting data will be used to build an trophic interaction network of the organisms in the saltmarsh ecosystem.

Research interests

- trophic interactions in invertebrate communities

- highly dynamic ecosystems

- ecology of insects and other invertebrates

- morphological investigations on insects and myriapods

- evolution of morphological traits

- inter- and intraspecific variability of morphological traits

- digital recording and processing of morphological data with the use of micro-ct

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