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Analyse ökohydrologischer Prozesse im Grünland (Innovationsfond; Drought Nut Net)



Global climate change projections predict increased occurrence of extreme climate events such as extended droughts as well as an increase in rainfall variability for large parts of Central Europe, which are known to be major drivers controlling terrestrial plant ecology, community structure and resilience, particularly in shallow rooted communities such as grasslands. Although extensive research has been done on the interplay between climatic (i.e. hydrological) extreme events and productivity, (i.e. biomass production, structure and biodiversity of plant communities), the connection between changes in community resilience and the underlying mechanistic eco-hydrological responses of grassland communities to drought spells gained less attention and remain largely unclear. Therefore, a mechanistic understanding of the processes controlling water-use from single plant to community scale and the structural development of plant communities is pivotal.


In this regard, stable isotopic compositions of H2O and CO2 are insightful indicators and quantifiers of processes occurring in the soil-vegetation-atmosphere continuum, specifically since new technical developments now enable near continuous observations. The aim of this project is the quantification and detailed mechanistic analysis of the vegetation eco-hydrological response (i.e., water-use, carbon uptake) to extended drought periods using H2O and CO2 flux and stable isotopologues measurements. This will be linked to community responses regarding structure and biomass production to assess changes in grassland resilience under severe drought predicted by climate change. These aspects will be studied from the plant to community level. Within the framework of an international drought and nutrients manipulation network (drought and nut net, in collaboration with chair of Geo-Botany, Uni Freiburg) we will link community scale eco-hydrological drought responses (net ecosystem fluxes of H2O and CO2 partitioned into their distinct components and root water uptake profiles) to responses in community structure and biomass production.


People involved: Dr. Maren Dubbert (P.I.), Angelika Kübert (phd-student), Prof. Dr. Christiane Werner

Collaboration: Prof. M. Scheerer Lorenzen, Dr. Tobias Gebauer, Dr. Charles Nock