Laura Rose, Carola Fessel, Dr. Ina Meier, Dr. Dietrich Hertel, Prof. Dr. Christoph Leuschner

The impact of grassland management regimes and herbicide use on species diversity, above- and belowground plant biomass production, and ecophysiological and morphological plant responses

The plant ecology project aims at linking plant diversity and management impacts on plant biomass production and allocation to ecophysiological and morphological plant responses.
Fertilization, mowing and grazing as management parameters as well as different levels of biodiversity can affect plant performance above and belowground in different ways. We focus on the impact of management regimes and plant diversity on plant composition, aboveground biomass production, specific leaf area and photosynthesis of target species, as well as belowground biomass production and spatial distribution, specific root area and root length density. Foliar and root tissue quality will also be analyzed. We will observe the allocation of nitrogen using N-tracer experiments and lysimeters will help us to quantify evapotranspiration.

In a second phase of the project, we will continue to monitor above- and belowground responses to the different management regimes. A joint mesocosm-experiment will allow for analysing biotic above- and belowground interactions as influenced by aboveground herbivory. Moreover, we will conduct a species exclusion experiment for analysing species diversity effects on above- and belowground productivity along a wide diversity gradient.