Biodiversity and biogeochemical cycles : a search for mechanisms across ecosystems (BioCycle)

Courtesy of Stephan Hättenschwiler

Past research on the consequences of biodiversity loss for ecosystem functioning provided evidence of diminished primary production with decreasing plant species diversity. Little is known, however, about the relationship between biodiversity and other key ecosystem processes including decomposition, carbon transformation, and nutrient mineralization; vital components of the ecosystem functioning that deliver essential goods and services to humanity. In this project we propose to establish a European-wide network investigating the interactive effects of plant litter diversity and decomposer arthropod diversity on carbon and nutrient cycling across a gradient of paired terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems running from the arctic to the tropics. With a comparative approach using a multiple species pool experiment in which we plan to manipulate functional diversity across biomes and ecosystem types, we aim to establish a mechanistic understanding of the impact of changing biodiversity on ecosystem functioning. We believe that the novel plant diversity ´ decomposer diversity manipulations, concerted investigation across biomes, specific comparison of structurally distinct aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, the use of state-of-the-art analytical tools, and scientific excellence unified within the framework of the project will greatly advance the understanding of the biodiversity-ecosystem function relationship.


Project leader:

Dr. Stephan Hättenschwiler
Centre of Functional Ecology and Evolution
Cedex 5 34293 Montpellier France
Phone:+33 4 67 61 22 36
Fax:+33 4 67 41 21 38


Principal Investigators:

Prof. Rien Aerts, Vrije Universiteit, NL

Prof. Frank Berendse, Wageningen University, NL

Prof. Nina Buchmann, ETH Zentrum, CH

Dr. Eric Chauvet, CNRS, FR

Dr. Mark O. Gessner, EAWAG/ETH, CH

Dr. Björn Malmqvist, University of Umea, SE

Dr. Marten Scheffer, Wageningen University, NL

Dr. Stefan Scheu, Universität Damstadt, DE

Prof. Bernhard Schmid, Universität Zürich, CH

Dr. Waltraud Schulze, Max-Planck-Institute, DE



Associated Group:

Dr. Harald Auge, UFZ, DE

Dr. Richard Bardgett, Lancaster University, UK

Prof. Ernst-Detlef Schulze, Max-Planck-Institut, DE

Dr. Catherine Potvin, McGill University, CA