Plant, Soil and Ecosystem Processes

The Research Group Plant, Soil and Ecosystem Processes studies biogeochemical processes related to the carbon, nitrogen and water cycles in (mostly) mountain ecosystems in response to changing climate and land use. In situ experimental manipulations are designed to unravel the mechanisms underlying observed patterns. Emphasis is laid on plant-soil interactions and the role of plants and their functional traits in ecosystem processes. A range of ecophysiological techniques are employed to study the gas exchange of above- and belowground plant organs, soil respiration and the net ecosystem exchange (NEE) of CO2, as well as CH4, N2O and H2O. Collaborations permit explicit consideration of microbial communities and processes. Isotopic techniques are applied to trace fluxes of carbon, nitrogen and water in response to environmental change.

 Group Members

MSc Students
Lukas Huss (co-supervised)
Michelle Maier
Michael Metzler
Melissa Morcote-Martinez
Deniz Scheerer
Carmen Telser

BSc Students
Claudia Federer
Gil Putz
Jakob Siewerth

Recent group members
Chris Bowden (Student Intern June - August 2019), Stefanie Hörbst, MSc, Dr. Jasper Bloemen, Dr. Ute Krainer, Dr. Dagmar Rubatscher, Dr. Michael Schmitt and the former Master students  Arne Schultz, Andrea Weinfurtner, Sarah Scheld, Eric Walter, Karina Fritz, Stefan Roth, Lisa Schwarz, Michaela Krohn, Sebastian Gertloff, Claudia Gstir, Sacha Ribeyron (Internship Feb-Aug 2018, Université Jean Monnet - Saint-Etienne), Veronika Brune, Helene Solderer, Lena Drexler, Sylvia Flucher, Magdalena Haidegger, Alexander Kiessling, Sonja Pirchmoser, Sarah Geiger

Co-supervised students from collaborating institutions:
PhD students:
Stefan Karlowsky (Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry Jena), Alba Anadon Rosell  (University of Barcelona), Konstantin Gavazov (EPFL), Lucia Fuchslueger (University of Vienna)
Master students: Camilla Bateni, Martino Gambacorti-Passerini, Oliver Rohrmoser, Florian Senoner (all: Free University of Bozen)

Current Projects

Interactive effects of drought intensity and resilience on the response of grassland C dynamics to drought
Funded by TWF | 2020-2021 | PI: Johannes Ingrisch

Timberline - Legacy effects after summer and winter drought
Funded by FWF | 2019-2022 | co-investigator (PI: Stefan Mayr, Department of Botany)

Future Arctic: A glimpse into the Arctic future: equipping a unique natural experiment  for next-generation ecosystem research
Funded by EU-Horizon 2020, Marie Curie Actions – Innovative Training Networks ITN | 2019-2023 | 

Consequences of seasonal snow cover for carbon cycling of world forests: direct and legacy effects
Funded by NSF | 2020-2021 | co-investigator (PI: Dave Bowling, University of Utah) | 

NitroTrace: Using isotopes to trace the effects of climate extremes on N2O emissions and the nitrogen cycle in managed grasslands 
funded by FWF | 2018-2021 | principle investigator

LTER-CWN Long-Term Ecosystem Research Infrastructure for Carbon, Water and Nitrogen
Funded by FFG-Austrian Research Promotion Agency | 2017-2022 | project partner


  • ClimGrassHydro: Ecohydrology of mountain grassland under multiple global change: mechanisms and consequences
    Funded by ÖAW research programme "Earth System Sciences" (ESS) | 2019-2022 | principle investigator
  • ClimGrass: Grassland carbon dynamics in a changing climate
    funded by FWF | 2016-2019 | principle investigator
  • ExtremeGrass - Interactive effects of warming, elevated CO2 and weather extremes on nitrogen gas fluxes in a managed grassland
    Funded by Austrian Climate Research Program (ACRP) | 2016-2019 | project partner

ForHot: Plant-soil carbon responses to warming and nitrogen
Funded by FWF | 2017-2020 | principle investigator (international partner PI: Ivan Janssens, Antwerp)

Soil microbial community dynamics and biogeochemical cycles under global change: effects of climate and vegetation change in alpine ecosystems
Funded by NERC |2017-2020|  project partner (PI: Richard Bardgett, Manchester)

Completed Projects (selected)

ClimMani - Climate Change Manipulation Experiments in Terrestrial Ecosystems: Networking and Outreach
In the frame of COST Action ES1308 | 2014-2018
ClimLUC: Climate extremes and land-use change: effects on ecosystem processes and services
Funded by ÖAW research programme "Earth System Sciences" (ESS) | 2015-2018 | principle investigator
The role of respired CO2 recycling in tree carbon allocation (FWF Lise Meitner Programme) | 2014 – 2016

CARBO-Extreme The terrestrial Carbon cycle under Climate Variability and Extremes – a pan European synthesis(EU FP7, 2009 - 2013)

GHG Europe-Greenhouse gas management in European land use systems (EU FP7, 2010-2013)

REGARDS - REsilience of marginal GrAsslands and biodiveRsity management Decision Support 
Funded by FWF (ERA-net BiodivERsA) | 2013-2016 | project partner

SIGNAL - research project
Funded by the BiodivERsA call of the ERA-Net | 2013-2016

Climate extremes and grassland carbon dynamics (FWF P22214, 2010-2013)

VITAL (Ecosystem service proVIsion from coupled planT and microbial functionAL diversity in managed grasslands (Project BiodivERsA) (FWF I242, 2009-2013) 

CAMELEON - CArbon dynamics in Mountain Ecosystems : analyzing Landscape-scale Effects Of aNthropogenic changes (climate and land-use) (BMWF, "Circle Mountain" ERA-net, 2011-2013)

COST Action ES0806 SIBAE - Stable Isotopes in Biospheric-Atmospheric-Earth System Research SIBAE (2009-2013)

Plant and microbial controls on ecosystem respiration (FWF P18756, co-funded by TWF, 2006-2010)

Plant resource use in mountain grasslands differing in land use  (FWF P13003-B06, 1999-2002)

CarboMont (EU FP 5, EVK2-CT2001-00125, 2001-2004)

EcoMont (EU FP4, ENV4-CT95-0179, 1996-1999)


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