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PD Dr. Norbert Kunert



norbert kunert

Tennenbacherstr. 4
79085 Freiburg im Breisgau

Tel. +49 176 286 285 41






Research interest

Norbert Kunert is a forest ecophysiologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's Conservation Ecology Center and affiliated with the Center for Tropical Forest Scienceat at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Kunert's research focuses on water and carbon use physiology of trees under a changing climate. In his current work, he aims to identify key hydraulic, physiological, anatomical and functional traits, and to parameterize those for the use of tree growth models in response to climate change.
Kunert has intensively worked on tree water relations in tropical tree plantations and tropical moist forests in Panama and in the Central Amazon. His recent research highlights the importance of large tree individuals within the hydrological cycle in the Amazonian rainforest. He found that the water cycling can drastically change with anthropogenic forest disturbance and that forest edge effects significantly affect tree transpiration rate. Consequently, disturbed forests are running a higher risk to be water limited during prolonged dry spells.
Kunert is driven by his natural curiosity and loves to share his passion about forest ecology with students. He spent all the time he could spare in the forest as a little boy, and he still tries to spend most of his time in the forest whenever it is possible. He learned very early in his life how important forest is for human well-being, and this motivated him to study forest sciences and to become a forest ecologist. It his special concern to find sustainable ways to use and manage forest ecosystems to preserve their valuable resources and ecosystem services for future generations.


Module coordinator Tropical Forest Ecology


12/2017  Habilitation, Silviculture and Physiological Forest Ecology Faculty Environment and Natural Resources, Freiburg, Germany
06/2010  Ph.D. in Forest Science and Wood Ecology, Department of Tropical Silviculture and Forest Ecology, Georg-August University, Germany
02/2007  M.Sc. in Biology, TU-Munich, Germany
05/2006  M.Sc. in Wood and Forestry Science, TU-Munich, Germany
04/2006  Diploma in Forestry Science and Resource Management, TU-Munich, Germany
02/2005  B.Sc. in Forestry Science, TU-Munich, Germany

External links

Smithsonian Institution

Review activities on publons
Research gate profile
Google scholar profile


Vargas, G., Kunert, N., Hammond, W., Berry, Z.C., Werden, L., Smith-Martin, C., Wolfe, B., Toro, L., Mondragón-Botero, A., Pinto L.J. Schwartz, N., Uriarte, M., Sack, L., Anderson-Teixeira, K., Powers, J., 2022. Leaf habit affects the distribution of drought sensitivity but not water transport efficiency in the tropics. Ecology Letters.

Kunert, N., Hajek, P., 2022. Shade-tolerant temperate broad-leaved trees are more sensitive to thermal stress than light-demanding species during a moderate heatwave. Trees, Forests and People 9,100282. 

Kunert, N., Brändle, J., El-Madany, T., 2022. Carbon allocation and tree diversity: shifts in autotrophic respiration in tree mixtures compared to monocultures. Biologia.

Kunert, N., Brändle, J., 2022. How drought tolerant are tropical woody crop species - turgor loss points for the five most common species in the emerging landscapes in Southeast Asia. Earth and Environmental Science  1053, 012023.

Kunert, N., Hajek, P, 2022. Der Hochwald ist tot - es lebe der Niederwald? AFZ – Der Wald 15, 30-34

Jansen, S., Bittencourt, P., Pereira, L., Schenk, J., Kunert, N., 2022. A crucial phase in plants - it’s a gas, gas, gas! New Phytologist 233, 1556–1559.

Kunert, N., Hajek, P., 2021. Hitzetoleranz von Nadelbäumen. AFZ – Der Wald 22, 24-27.

Kunert, N., Hajek, P., Hietz, P., Morris, H., Rosner, S., Tholen, D., 2021. Summer temperatures reach the thermal tolerance threshold of photosynthetic decline in temperate conifers. Plant Biology.

Chitra-Tarak, R., Xu, C., Aguilar, S., Anderson-Teixeira, K.J., Chambers, J., Detto, M., Faybishenko, B., Fisher, R.A., Knox, R.G., Koven, C.D., Kueppers, L.M., Kunert, N., Kupers, S.J., McDowell, N.G., Newman, B.D., Paton, S.R., Pérez, R., Ruiz, L., Sack, L., Warren, J.M., Wolfe, B.T., Wright, C., Wright, S.J., Zailaa, J. and McMahon, S.M. 2021. Hydraulically-vulnerable trees survive on deep-water access during droughts in a tropical forest. New Phytologist .231(5): 1798–1813.

Morgan, R.B., Herrmann, V., Kunert, N., Bond-Lamberty, B., Muller-Landau, H.C., Anderson-Teixeira, K.J., 2021. Global patterns of forest autotrophic carbon fluxes. Global Change Biology 2, 2840-2855. 

Kunert, N., Zailaa, J., Herrmann, V., Muller-Landau, H.C., Wright, S.J., Pérez, R., McMahon, S.M., Condit, R., Hubbell, S.P., Sack, L., Davies, S.J., Anderson-Teixeira, K.J., 2021. Leaf turgor loss point shapes local and regional distributions of evergreen but not deciduous tropical trees. New Phytologist 230 (2), 485-496.

McGregor, I.R., Helcoski, R., Kunert, N., Tepley, A.J., Gonzalez-Akre, E.B., Herrmann, V., Zailaa, J., Stovall, A.E.L, Bourg, N.A.,  McShea, W.J., Pederson, N., Sack, L., Anderson-Teixeira, K.J., 2020. Tree height and leaf drought tolerance traits shape growth responses across droughts in a temperate broadleaf forest. New Phytologist 231, 601-616.

 Kunert, N., Tomaskova, I., 2020. Leaf turgor loss point at full hydration for 41 native and introduced tree and shrub species from Central Europe. Journal of Plant Ecology 13 (6),  754–756.

Kunert, N., 2020. Buche, Kiefer und Fichte sterben aus unterschiedlichen Gründen. AFZ – Der Wald 6, 39-40

Kunert, N. 2020. Preliminary indications for diverging heat and drought sensitivities in Norway spruce and Scots pine in Central Europe. iForest.

Brändle, J., Kunert, N. 2019. A new automated stem CO2 efflux chamber based on industrial ultra-low-cost sensors. Tree Physiology.

Kunert, N. 2019. Die Trockentoleranz der Eichen. AFZ – Der Wald 20, 15-16.

Kunert, N., El-Madany, T.S., Aparecido, L.M.T., Wolf, S., Potvin, C., 2019. Understanding the controls over forest carbon use efficiency on small spatial scales: Effects of forest disturbance and tree diversity.Agricultural and Forest Meteorology  269-270C, 136-144. 

Kunert, N., Zailaa, J., 2019. Specific leaf area for five tropical tree species growing in different tree species mixtures in Central Panama.New Forests, 1-18.

Hilman, B., Muhr, J.,  Trumbore, S.E., Kunert, N., Carbone, M.S., Yuval, P., Wright, S.J., Moreno, G., Pérez-Priego, O., Migliavacca, M., Carrara, A., Grünzweig, J.M. Osem, Y., Weiner, T., Angert, A., 2019. Comparison of CO2 and O2 fluxes demonstrate retention of respired CO2 in tree stems from a range of tree species. Biogeosciences, 16, 177-191.

Kunert, N., 2019. Das Ende der Kiefer als Hauptbaumart in Mittelfranken. AFZ - Der Wald 3, 42-43.

Aparecido, L.M.T., dos Santos, J., Higuchi, N., Kunert, N., 2019. Relevance of wood anatomy and size of Amazonian trees in the determination and allometry of sapwood area. Acta Amazonica 49 (1), 1-10.

Muhr, J., Trumbore, S., Higuchi, N., Kunert, N., 2018. Living on borrowed time - Amazonian trees use decade-old storage carbon to survive for months after complete stem girdling. New Phytologist 220 (1), 111-120.

Kunert, N.,  2018. Die waldbauliche Bedeutung von Waldraendern im Klimawandel. AFZ - Der Wald 9, 26-28.

Kunert, N., 2018. A case study on the vertical and diurnal variation of stem CO2 effluxes in an Amazonian forest tree. Trees - Structure and Function 32 (3), 913 - 917.

Kunert, N., Mercado Cardenas, A., 2018. Treasures in insect collections: the future of the bomb-radiocarbon analysis. Insect Science 25, 1128-1131.

Cobb, R.C., Ruthrof, K., Breshears, D., Llorett, F. Aakala,T., Adams, H.D., Allen, C.D., Anderegg, W.L., Ewers, B.E., Galiano, L., Grnzweig, J.M., Hartmann, H., Huang, C., Klein, T., Kunert, N., Kitzberger, T., Landhausser, S.M., Levick, S., Preisler, Y., Suarez, M.L., Trotsiuk, V.,  Zeppel, M., 2017. Ecosystem Dynamics and Management after Forest Die-off: A Global Synthesis with Conceptual State-and-Transition Models. Ecosphere.

Kunert, N., 2017. Einschlag zur kurzfristigen Reduzierung von Trockenstress? AFZ - Der Wald 22, 50-52.

Mewett, G., Koeller, A.E., Reinhart, A.L., Sang, Z., Stepehns, A., Stroelin, M., Kunert, N., 2017. An ecological, socio-economic and silvicultural assessment of the sustainability of reduced impact logging in tropical forests. Annals of Ecology and Environmental Science 1 (1), 1-15.

Kunert, N., Aparecido, L.M.T., Wolff, S., Higuchi, N., dos Santos, J., Araujo, A., Trumbore, S., 2017. A revised hydrological model for the Central Amazon: The importance of emergent canopy trees in the forest water budget. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 239, 47-57.

Kunert, N., 2016. The rich coast or the El Dorado in Tropical ecology. Biotropica 48 (6), 926.

Kunert, N., 2016. Curios relationship revealed by looking at long term data sets ? the geometry and allometric scaling of diel xylem sap flux in tropical trees. Journal of Plant Physiology 205, 80-83.

Kunert, N., 2016. Wiederaufforstung in den Tropen mit Mischbest„nden. AFZ - Der Wald 3, 43-45.

Kunert, N., Edinger, J., 2015. Xylem sap flux affects conventional stem CO2 efflux measurements in tropical trees. Biotropica 47 (6), 650-653.

Kunert, N., Aparecido, L. M. T., Barros, P., Higuchi, N., 2015. Modeling potential impacts of planting palms or trees in small holder fruit plantations on ecohydrological processes in the Central Amazon. Forests 6(8), 2530-2544.

Kunert, N., Aparecido, L. M. T., dos Santos, J., Higuchi, N., Trumbore, S, 2015. Higher tree transpiration due to road-associated edge effects in a tropical moist lowland forest. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 213, 183?192.

Kunert, N., Mercado Cardenas, A., 2015. Are diverse tropical tree plantations more resistant to drought than monocultures? Forests 6(6), 2029-2046.

Aparecido, L. M. T., dos Santos, J., Higuchi, N., Kunert, N., 2015. Ecological applications of differences in the hydraulic efficiency of palms and broad leaved trees. Trees - Structure and Function.

Da Silva, F., Suwa, R., Kajimoto, T., Ishizuka, M., Higuchi, N., Kunert, N., 2015. Allometric equations for estimating biomass including roots for Euterpe precatoria the most abundant palm species in the Amazon. Forests 6(2), 450-463.

Jardine, K., Ya¤ez-Serrano, A.M., Williams, J., Kunert, N., Jardine, A., Taylor, T., Abrell, L., Artaxo, P., Guenther, A., Hewitt, C.N., House, E., Florentino, A. P., Manzi, A., Higuchi, N., Kesselmeier, J., Behrendt, T., Veres, P. R., Derstroff, B., Fuentes, J. D., Martin, S., Andreae M. O. 2015. Dimethyl Sulfide in the Amazon Rainforest. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 29(1), 19-32.

Schwendenmann, L., Pendall, E., Sanchez-Bragado, R., Kunert, N., Hoelscher, D., 2015. Tree water uptake in a tropical plantation varying in tree diversity: interspecific differences, seasonal shifts and complementarity. Ecohydrology 8 (1), 1-12.

Kunert, N., 2014. Evaluating the future of our forests. Biotropica 46 (6), 773.

Sapijanskas, J., Paquette, A., Potvin, C., Kunert, N., Loreau, M., 2014. Tropical tree diversity enhances light capture through crown plasticity and spatial and temporal niche differences. Ecology 95, 2479?2492.

Kunert, N., Barros, P., Higuchi, N., 2013. Do palm water use characteristics explain the spatial distribution of palms in the Central Amazon? Acta Horticulturae 99, 197-204.

Trumbore, S., Angert, A., Kunert, N., Muhr, J., Chambers, J.Q., 2013. What?s the flux? Unraveling how CO2 fluxes from trees reflect underlying physiological processes. New Phytologist 197 (2), 353-355.

Kunert, N., Mercado Cardenas, A., 2012. Effects of xylem water transport on CO2 efflux of woody tissue in a tropical tree. Hoehnea 39(1), 139-144.

Kunert, N., Schwendenmann, L., Potvin, C., Hoelscher, D., 2012. Tree transpiration in relation to tree diversity in a Panamanian forest plantation. Journal of Applied Ecology 49, 135-144.

Schneebeli, M., Wolf, S., Kunert, N., Eugster, W.  M„tzler, C., 2011. Relating the X-band opacity of a tropical tree canopy to sap flow, rain interception and dew formation. Remote Sensing of Environment 115, 2116-2125.

Dierick, D., Kunert, N., Koehler, M., Schwendenmann, L., Hoelscher, D., 2010. Comparison of tree water use characteristics in reforestation and agroforestry stands across the tropics. In: T. Tscharntke, Ch. Leuschner, E. Veldkamp, H. Faust, E. Guhardja, A. Bidin (eds.) Tropical Rainforests and Agroforests under Global Change. Springer, Berlin, pp 293-308.

Kunert, N., Schwendenmann, L., Hoelscher, D., 2010. Seasonal dynamics of tree sap flux and water use in nine species in Panamanian forest plantations. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 150, 411-419.



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