Element cycles in forests and grasslands of the Biodiversity Exploratories: Response to management intensity und biodiversity

 

Previous project phase (2011 - 2017)

 

Scientific investigators:

Prof. Dr. Beate Michalzik

Sebastian Bischoff

Sebastian W. Oehmke

(Uni Jena)

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wilcke

Dr. Sophia Leimer

Dr. Peter Escher

Niklas Emendörfer

Tobias Wirsing

(Karlsruhe Institute of Technology)

Prof. Dr. Jan Siemens

Lisa Thieme

(Uni Giessen)

Prof. Dr. Martin Kaupenjohann

Katja Kerber

(TU Berlin)

Dr. Diana Hofmann (cooperat.)

(Forschungszentrum Jülich)

Element fluxes will respond much more rapidly to changing environmental conditions (including changes in land use and reduced biodiversity) than the soil solid phase or a forest stand itself. Therefore, investigation of element fluxes is a convenient tool to elucidate effects of land use intensity and biodiversity on functioning of both forest and grassland ecosystems of the Biodiversity Exploratories. While it is already known that different land use types, such as forest or grassland, have strong impact on element cycles, consequences of differing management intensities on the same type of land use and associated biodiversity for element cycling in established real world ecosystems are still largely unknown.

Element and nutrient budgets of ecosystems include input (atmospheric deposition, manuring), internal cycling (mineralization, weathering, uptake into biomass, accumulation, translocation) as well as output (leaching, gaseous emission, harvest). The majority of turnover and mass transport takes place in precipitation and soil solution in dissolved form. For both, distribution and retention of elements and nutrients, processes in soil and canopy are important and therefore attract special interest. Many of these processes are mediated biologically and it is therefore assumed that synergies evolve from higher biodiversity levels, which enhance element recycling and decrease nutrient losses.

As a contribution to the elucidation of control variables of stable ecosystem functions and resulting ecosystem services, we examine water flows and nutrient cycling processes of different forest and grassland management systems varying in biodiversity in each of the three exploratories (altogether 56 plots).

 

Hypotheses

1.   Nutrient inputs and outflows of ecosystems as well as element cycles are linked to land use intensity and biodiversity.

2.    Nutrient and carbon leaching losses are inversely proportional to land use intensity and biodiversity.

3.    Turnover and recycling of carbon compounds in ecosystems lead to an approximation of the quality of dissolved organic matter of different ecosystems along water flow paths from the canopy into the subsoil.

 

Methods

For these purposes, we installed rainfall, throughfall and stemflow samplers as well as litter fall collectors to determine atmospheric inputs and turnover processes in the canopy. Element cycling in soils as well as leaching losses are assessed with lysimeters under organic layers of forest floors and suction cups.

In recovered aqueous solutions, we determine concentrations of different C (DIC, DOC, POC), N (DN, PN, NH4-N, NO3-N) and P species (TP, PO4-P), as well as of different elements like S, Na, K, Ca, Mg, Al, Mn and Si. Characterization and determination of the quality of dissolved organic matter (DOM) is carried out using FT-ICR-MS, fluorescence measurements and titration microcalorimetry, while turnover of nutrient elements and their sources are investigated by means of stable isotope approaches (15N). Investigations of 15N signals on deciduous and coniferous tree leaves using nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS) will provide information on the formation and spatial distribution of particulate N compounds and other nutrients within the microbially colonized phyllosphere of tree leaves. In addition, the composition of the phyllosphere microbial community will be studied in collaboration with the Chair of Aquatic Geomicrobiology (FSU Jena) using molecular techniques.

The results of our research are prerequisites to disentangle effects of land use and biodiversity and to evaluate effects on element cycling

 

 

Installation in grassland VIPs
Installation in forest VIP
Suction cup bottles
Lysimeters
Stemflow
Stemflow
Impression of grassland plot

Martin Schwarz, forest

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Element cycles in forests and grasslands of the biodiversity exploratories: Response to management intensity and associated biodiversity

 

Previous project phase (2009 - 2011)

Scientific investigators:

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang  Wilcke

Martin Schwarz

(University Bern)

PD Dr. Jan Siemens

Lisa Thieme

Nils Meyer

Sophia Leimer

(University Bonn)

Prof. Dr. Beate Michalzik

Sebastian Bischoff

(University Jena)


Sustainable forest and grassland management is characterized by closed element cycles.

We test two hypotheses:

(1) Nutrient inputs and their (re)cycling at the ecosystem level are related to land-use intensity.

(2) Nutrient and carbon leaching decreases along a gradient of increasing naturalness of forests and grasslands associated with an increasing plant diversity from monocultures to near-native plant communities.

 

Introduction and Aims

Element and nutrient budgets of ecosystems are divided into input (atmospheric deposition, manuring), internal turnover and transfer (mineralization, weathering, uptake into biomass, accumulation, translocation) and output (leaching, gaseous emission, harvest). Transport of elements and nutrients from/to external compartments as well as inside of natural ecosystems mainly occurs dissolved in water. For both, distribution and retention of elements and nutrients, processes in soil and canopy are important and therefore attract special interest. Many of these processes are mediated biologically and it is assumed that synergies evolve from higher biodiversity levels which enhance element recycling and decrease nutrient losses. Therefore, we will determine water fluxes and nutrient turnover of three differently biodiverse management systems in forests and grasslands at each of the three exploratories (altogether 54 experimental plots).

 

Methods

We will install rainfall, throughfall and stemflow samplers to determine atmospheric inputs and turnover processes in the canopy. Rates of weathering and element cycling in soils will be assessed with zero-tension lysimeters and suction cups,  elemental turnover and element sources will be studied by stable isotope techniques (?13C, ?15N, ?18O).

The results of this research are prerequisites to disentangle effects of land-use and biodiversity and to evaluate effects on element cycling.

BECycles Bild
Installation in grassland VIP (source: Martin Schwarz)
Installation in forest VIP (source: Martin Schwarz)
Lysimeters (source: Martin Schwarz)
Suction cup (source: Martin Schwarz)

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