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Biodiversity experiments have often shown positive relationships between plant species numbers and various ecosystem functions such as productivity, biomass quality, nutrient cycling, stability and resistance to disturbances and invasions. Nevertheless, there is a scientific debate on whether the results of these rather controlled experiments can be transferred to real ecosystems. In our project, the effects of land use intensity, pre-disturbance diversity, soil seed bank and seeding on the resilience of ecosystem functions after a disturbance event are investigated. The focus is particularly on the role of the permanent seed bank as part of the invisible diversity as well as the effects of additionally introduced seeds from regional seeds on plant communities and ecosystem functions.


Within the full factorial disturbance seeding experiment SADE, we will explore how the targeted introduction of plant species influences the regeneration of vegetation and its essential ecosystem functions after a severe disturbance. This will be done along a real diversity and land use gradient. Special attention is also paid to the resilience of the plant community and important productivity-related ecosystem functions. In a complementary mesocosm experiment, we will test whether and how plant diversity modifies effects of experimental fertilisation and drought on, for example, nutrient cycling. We will test the following hypotheses:

  • In disturbed areas, subordinate and transient species emerging from the diaspora bank will play an important role in maintaining numerous ecosystem functions, especially at the beginning of revegetation.
  • In species-rich stands, plant diversity and many ecosystem functions will be restored more quickly without seeding than in stands with low diversity, as regeneration in these stands is severely limited by a lack of diaspores.
  • Species enrichment through seeding with Regio seed will positively influence various ecosystem functions such as yield, forage quality, desiccation resistance and nutrient uptake.
  • High plant diversity will positively influence nutrient retention and reduce losses of nutrients to groundwater or deeper soil layer

Our project will explore the diaspora bank on all 75 plots of the SADE experiment in all three study areas to investigate the relevance of plant diversity for the recovery of the vegetation community after the disturbance event. The main indicators for maintaining ecosystem functions are productivity, nutrient storage in the vegetation, and abundances of stable isotopes of nitrogen (N) and carbon (C) as integrative measures of N cycling and drought stress. In addition, mineralisation rates of N and phosphorus (P) in the soil are measured on all plots using exchange resins (so-called resin bags) to record nutrient availability and surplus in relation to the diversity and land use intensity gradient. Interactions between plant diversity, drought stress and fertilisation on nutrient cycling will be investigated in a separate ex-situ mesocosm experiment with the aim of isolating controlling factors and identifying key mechanisms.


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Werde ich bleiben oder werde ich gehen? Artspezifische Reaktionen und Toleranzen von Pflanzen auf und gegenüber hoher Landnutzungsintensitäten in temperaten Grünland-Ökosystemen
Busch V., Klaus V. H., Schäfer D., Prati D., Boch S., Müller J., Socher S. A., Chisté M., Mody K., Blüthgen N., Fischer M., Hölzel N., Kleinebecker T. (2019): Will I stay or will I go? Plant species‐specific response and tolerance to high land‐use intensity in temperate grassland ecosystems. Journal of Vegetation Science 30 (4), 674-686. doi: 10.1111/jvs.12749
More information:  doi.org
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Effects of seed addition and sward disturbance on species diversity and herbivory in grasslands
Craemer A. (2017): Effects of seed addition and sward disturbance on species diversity and herbivory in grasslands. Master thesis, University Münster
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Carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions under supervised treatments along a land use gradient – a mesocosm study
Craemer A., Steffen P. (2016): Carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions under supervised treatments along a land use gradient – a mesocosm study. Technical report, University Münster
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Die Anfangsphase des Streuabbaus in unterschiedlichen Biomen
Djukic I., Kepfer-Rojas S., Schmidt I. K., Larsen K. S., Beier C., Berg B., Verheyen K., et al., TeaComposition (2018): Early stage litter decomposition across biomes. Science of the Total Environment 628-629, 1369 - 1394. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.01.012
More information:  doi.org
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Freitag M., Klaus V. H., Bolliger R., Hamer U., Kleinebecker T., Prati D., Schäfer D., Hölzel N. (2021): Restoration of plant diversity in permanent grassland by seeding: Assessing the limiting factors along land-use gradients. Journal of Applied Ecology 58 (8), 1681-1692. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.13883
More information:  doi.org
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Grünlandnutzung in Deutschland: Auswirkungen auf Pflanzendiversität und Vegetationszusammensetzung
Gilhaus K., Boch S., Fischer M., Hölzel N., Kleinebecker T., Prati D., Rupprecht D., Schmitt B., Klaus V. H. (2017): Grassland management in Germany: effects on plant diversity and vegetation composition. Tuexenia 37, 379-397. doi: 10.14471/2017.37.010
More information:  doi.org
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Hölzel N., Klaus V. H. (2017): Zur Artenvielfalt im Grünland. Natur in NRW 2/2017, 35-39
More information:  www.lanuv.nrw.de
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Zeitliche und kleinräumige Schwankungen von Aufwuchs, Aufwuchsqualität und Nährstofflimitierung von Pfl anzen im Grünland
Klaus V. H., Boch S., Boeddinghaus H., Hölzel N., Kandeler E., Marhan S., Oelmann Y., Prati D., Regan K. M., Schmitt B., Sorkau E., Kleinebecker T. (2016): Temporal and small-scale spatial variation in grassland productivity, biomass quality, and nutrient limitation. Plant Ecology 217 (7), 843–856. doi: 10.1007/s11258-016-0607-8
More information:  doi.org
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Trockenheit erhöht die Gefahr der Stickstoffauswaschung stark
Klaus V. H., Friedritz L., Hamer U., Kleinebecker T. (2020): Drought boosts risk of nitrate leaching from grassland fertilisation. Science of The Total Environment 726, 137877. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137877
More information:  doi.org
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Die Bodensamenbank hilft nicht bei der Renaturierung von artenarmem Wirtschaftsgrünland
Klaus V. H., Hoewer C. J., Fischer M., Hamer U., Kleinebecker T., Mertens D., Schäfer D., Prati D., Hölzel N. (2018): Contribution of the soil seed bank to the restoration of temperate grasslands by mechanical sward disturbance. Restoration Ecology 26 (2), 114-122. doi: 10.1111/rec.12626
More information:  doi.org
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Pflanzenartenvielfalt beeinflusst den Trockenstress des Grünlands: Erkenntnisse einer umfangreichen Studie in Pflanzen und Böden
Klaus V. H., Hölzel N., Prati D., Schmitt B., Schöning I., Schrumpf M., Solly E., Hänsel F., Fischer M., Kleinebecker T. (2016): Plant diversity moderates drought stress in grasslands: Implications from a large real-world study on 13C natural abundances. Science of The Total Environment 566–567, 215–222. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.05.008
More information:  doi.org
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Die Intensivierung der Nutzung und der Umbruch von Grünland steigern das Risiko der Nitratauswaschung
Klaus V. H., Kleinebecker T., Busch V., Fischer M., Hölzel N., Nowak S., Prati D., Schäfer D., Schöning I., Schrumpf M., Hamer U. (2018): Land use intensity, rather than plant species richness, affects the leaching risk of multiple nutrients from permanent grasslands. Global Change Biology 24 (7), 2828-2840. doi: 10.1111/gcb.14123
More information:  doi.org
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Die floristische Anreicherung von Grünland unterschiedlicher Landnutzungsintensität mittels Störung und Ansaat
Klaus V. H., Schäfer D., Kleinebecker T., Fischer M., Prati D., Hölzel N. (2017): Enriching plant diversity in grasslands by large-scale experimental sward disturbance and seed addition along gradients of land-use intensity. Journal of Plant Ecology 10 (4) 581–591. doi: 10.1093/jpe/rtw062
More information:  doi.org
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Die Effekte von Düngung, Mahd und Beweidung auf die Bodensamenbank im Grünland
Klaus V. H., Schäfer D., Prati D., Busch V., Hamer U., Hoewer C. J., Kleinebecker T., Mertens D., Fischer M., Hölzel N. (2018): Effects of mowing, grazing and fertilization on soil seed banks in temperate grasslands in Central Europe. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 256, 211-217. doi: 10.1016/j.agee.2017.11.008
More information:  doi.org
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Kleinebecker T., Busch V., Hölzel N., Hamer U. , Schäfer D., Prati D., Fischer M., Hemp A., Lauterbach R., Klaus V. (2018): And the winner is …! A test of simple predictors of plant species richness in agricultural grasslands. Ecological Indicators 87, 296–301. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2017.12.031
More information:  doi.org
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Germination success of grassland-species on soils of different land-use intensity
Plumbaum K. (2015): Germination success of grassland-species on soils of different land-use intensity. Bachelor thesis, University Münster
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Grazing and its ecological effects: A new index for grazing intensity in grasslands
Beweidung und ihre ökologischen Auswirkungen: Ein neuer Index zur Beweidungsintensität im Grünland
Smiatek M. (2014): Grazing and its ecological effects: A new index for grazing intensity in grasslands. Bachelor thesis, University Muenster
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Tischer A., Sehl L., Meyer U.-N., Kleinebecker T., Klaus V., Hamer U. (2019): Land-use intensity shapes kinetics of extracellular enzymes in rhizosphere soil of agricultural grassland plant species. Plant Soil 437 (1–2), 215–239. doi: 10.1007/s11104-019-03970-w
More information:  doi.org
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Mesokosmen-Experiment 2015 – Ergebnisbericht
Wolanska K. (2016): Mesokosmen-Experiment 2015 - Ergebnisbericht. Technical report, University Münster

Project in other funding periods

ESCAPE II (Contributing project)
#Plants  #2020 – 2023  #2017 – 2020  #Grassland […]

Scientific assistants

Prof. Dr. Norbert Hölzel
Project manager
Prof. Dr. Norbert Hölzel
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Prof. Dr. Till Kleinebecker
Employee
Prof. Dr. Till Kleinebecker
Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
Dr. habil. Ute Hamer
Employee
Dr. habil. Ute Hamer
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Dr. Valentin Klaus
Employee
Dr. Valentin Klaus
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