Linking nutrient cycles, land use and biodiversity along an elevation gradient on Mt. Kilimanjaro
DFG KU 1184/20-1, 20-2
FOR 1246: Research Unit Kilimanjaro: Kilimanjaro ecosystems under global change:
Linking biodiversity, biotic interactions and biogeochemical ecosystem processes
Holger Pabst, Joscha Becker, James Mnyonga, Kevin Mganga, Yakov Kuzyakov
To understand impacts of climate and land use changes on biodiversity and accompanying ecosystem stability and services at the Mt. Kilimanjaro, detailed understanding and description of the current biotic and abiotic controls on ecosystem C and nutrient fluxes are needed. Therefore, cycles of main nutrients and typomorph elements (C, N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, Si) will be quantitatively described on pedon and stand level scale depending on climate (altitude gradient) and land use (natural vs. agricultural ecosystems). Total and available pools of the elements will be quantified in litter and soils for 6 dominant (agro)ecosystems and related to soil greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, N2O, CH4). 13C and 15N tracers will be used at small plots for exact quantification of C and N fluxes by decomposition of plant residues (SP7), mineralization, nitrification, denitrification and incorporation into soil organic matter pools with various stability. 13C compound-specific isotope analyses in microbial biomarkers (13C-PLFA) will evaluate the changes of key biota as dependent on climate and land use. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and leaching losses of nutrients from the (agro)ecosystems and the increase of the losses by conversion of natural ecosystems to agriculture will be evaluated and linked with changing vegetation diversity (SP4), vegetation biomass (SP2), decomposers community (SP7) and plant functional traits (SP5). Nutrient pools, turnover and fluxes will be linked with water cycle (SP2), CO2 and H2O vegetation exchange (SP2) allowing to describe ecosystem specific nutrient and water characteristics including the derivation of full GHG balances. Based on 60 plots screening stand level scale biogeochemical models will be tested, adapted and applied for simulation of key ecosystem processes along climate (SP1) and land use gradients.