Current Research Projects

Carbon flow in belowground food webs assessed by isotope tracers
(DFG Research Unit 918)

The project aims at understanding the flow of carbon through biotic compartments within terrestrial ecosystems. Isotope tracer methods are applied for identification of key biota and quantification of the carbon flux in the trophic cascade. This includes the incorporation of 13C label into biomarkers such as lipids and nucleic acids. In addition, attention is given to the overall carbon balance in the soil system. Experimentally assessed biomass-fluxes and allometric functional responses within food web biota complete the picture. This will result in the implementation of dynamic food web models based on empirical figures.

Previous Research Projects

Stabilization and mobilization of soil organic matter by earthworms
(SPP 1090 "Soils as sources and sinks for CO2 - Mechanisms and regulation of stabilization of organic matter in soils", funded by the DFG - ended 2007.

Biodiversity and biogeochemical cycles: a search for mechanisms across ecosystems (BioCycle)
(Integrated project, funded by the ESF - ended 2009.

Mobilization of recalcitrant soil organic carbon in deep soil layers
(Bilateral cooperation with Prof. Dr. Rong Ji, State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China; funded by the BMBF - ended 2010.

A biodiversity approach to improve bioremediation strategies for PAH contaminated soils
(Bilateral cooperation with Prof. Dr. Rong Ji, State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China; funded by the BMBF) - ended 2012.

SPLIDRHEX - Species Litter Identity and Diversity Effects on the Rhizosphere of Trees
(Cluster of Excellence 'Functional Biodiversity Research' University of Göttingen; funded by the State of Lower Saxony - ended 2013.


Butenschoen, O., Krashevska, V., Maraun, M., Marian, F., Sandmann, D. and Scheu, S. (2014). Litter mixture effects on decomposition in tropical montane rainforests vary strongly with time and turn negative at later stages of decay. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 77, 121-128.

Handa, I.T., Aerts, R., Berendse, F., Berg, M.P., Bruder, A., Butenschoen, O., Chauvet, E., Gessner, M.O., Jabiol, J., Makkonen, M., McKie, B.G., Malmqvist, B., Peeters, E.T.H.M., Scheu, S., Schmid, B., van Ruijven, J., Vos, V.C.A. and Hättenschwiler, S. (2014). Consequences of biodiversity loss for litter decomposition across biomes. Nature 509, 218-221.

Scharroba, A., Dibbern, D. Huenninghaus, M., Kramer, S., Moll, J., Butenschoen, O., Bonkowski, M., Buscot, F., Kandeler, E., Koller,, R., Lueders, T., Scheu, S. and Ruess, L. (2012) Effects of resource availability and quality on the structure of the micro-food web of an arable soil across depth. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 50, 1-11.

Kramer, S., Marhan, S., Ruess, L., Armbruster, W., Butenschoen, O., Haslwimmer, H., Kuzyakov, Y., Pausch, J., Scheunemann, N., Schoene, J., Schmalwasser, A., Totsche, K.U., Walker, F., Scheu, S. and Kandeler, E. (2012). Carbon flow into microbial and fungal biomass as a basis for the belowground food web of agroecosystems. Pedobiologia 55, 111-119.

Lummer, D., Scheu, S. and Butenschoen, O. (2012). Connecting litter quality, microbial community and nitrogen transfer mechanisms in decomposing litter mixtures. Oikos 121, 1649-1655.

Butenschoen, O., Scheu, S. and Eisenhauer, N. (2011). Interactive effects of warming, soil humidity and plant diversity on litter decomposition and microbial activity. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 43, 1902-1907.

Coq, S., Weigel, J., Butenschoen, O., Bonal, D. and Hättenschwiler, S. (2011). Litter composition rather than plant presence affects decomposition of tropical litter mixtures. Plant and Soil 343, 273-286.

Scheunemann, N., Scheu, S. and Butenschoen, O. (2010). Incorporation of decade old soil carbon into the soil animal food web of an arable system. Applied Soil Ecology 46, 59-63.

Eisenhauer, N., Butenschoen, O., Radsick, S. and Scheu, S. (2010). Earthworms as seedling predators: Importance of seeds and seedlings for earthworm nutrition. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 42, 1245-1252.

Butenschoen, O., Ji, R., Schaeffer, A. and Scheu, S. (2009). The fate of catechol in soil as affected by earthworms and clay. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 41, 330-339.

Eisenhauer, N., Schuy, M., Butenschoen, O. and Scheu, S. (2009). Direct and indirect effects of endogeic earthworms on plant seeds. Pedobiologia 52, 151-162.

Butenschoen, O., Marhan, S., Langel, R. and Scheu, S. (2009). Carbon and nitrogen mobilization by earthworms of different functional groups as affected by soil sand content. Pedobiologia 52, 263-272.

Butenschoen, O., Poll, C., Langel, R., Kandeler, E, Marhan, S. and Scheu, S. (2007). Endogeic earthworms alter carbon translocation by fungi at the soil-litter interface. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 39, 2854-2864.