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Dr. Friderike Beyer

Reserach Associate


Tennenbacherstr. 4
79085 Freiburg im Breisgau     


Fon. 0761/203-3678
Fax  0761/203-3781








Diversity effects of species and genotype mixtures in forests and tree plantations on ecosystem functioning

The role of biodiversity for ecosystem functioning is one of the most important questions in contemporary ecology, and the storage of carbon in terrestrial ecosystems, one of these functions, is globally the most important ecosystem service contributing to the mitigation of climate change. The project addresses these important issues and aims at analyzing the influence of tree diversity on below-ground ecosystem functioning including C storage. A large amount of organic carbon in terrestrial ecosystems is stored in soils. Variations in carbon fluxes into and out of this soil pool can interact with climate change. Important sources of belowground organic carbon are root turnover and exudation of molecules, including sugars and amino acids from the elongating region of the root near the root tip. Yet, little is known about the responses of those root dynamics to plant diversity and climate change. Although in recent years, research on the belowground dynamics has become more pronounced, it is still a neglected part of ecological science owing to its complexity and methodological constraints. The project aims at disentangling the belowground plant-plant interactions at different biodiversity levels, from the species level (different genotypes of the same species) to the community level (combination of different species) and effects of biodiversity towards drought stress. This will be achieved by analyzing tree diversity field experiments planted with different varieties and species in all possible combinations and in managed forests on a climatic gradient with rain exclusion plots. Additional greenhouse experiments will serve for analyses under controlled conditions. The superior goal is to test, whether more diverse forest communities will increase or decrease soil organic carbon storage and if they are more resistant to drought stress. This will be done by quantifying the fine-root turnover, exudation and decomposition and thus the carbon input into soils at different biodiversity and water availability levels.


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