The Jena Experience
The Jena Biodiversity Experiment (Jena, Germany, The Jena experiment) was established with the aim to link biodiversity to ecosystem functioning. Sixty plant species, native and common to the Central European Arrhenatherum grasslands, served as a pool from which experimental plant communities of different diversities were assembled.
Over the first 10 years of the Jena Experiment we could observe increasingly positive complementarity effects among plant species and the emergence of stronger diversity signals in ecosystem element fluxes and pools. In the coming years we expect these trends to continue, allowing us to study the underlying mechanisms. We aim to see whether the increasing complementarity effects, that are partly counterbalanced by increasingly negative selection effects of particular plant species, can be explained by abiotic or biotic feedbacks and how they are related to functional differences among species. For an overview of the research over the last 15 years, please click HERE
Together with dr Alex Weigelt (Uni Leipzig, Germany) I am responsible for managing the team that studies of belowground plant-plant interactions by performing detailed measurements of root distribution based on classical root coring and innovative molecular species identification, combined with state-of-the-art isotopic and non-isotopic tracer applications to quantify root activity patterns in space and time. Recently, we have started to broaden our scope to belowground plant-fungal interactions, since dr. Davide Francioli is investigating soil-borne fungal communities in roots along the diversity gradient.
PhD students and postdocs that contributed to the root projects within the Jena Experiment: Janneke Ravenek; Annette Jesch; Natalie Oram; Hongmei Chen and Katie Barry.