Max Planck Gesellschaft


The Department Biogeochemical Processes explores the key processes and organisms that regulate exchanges of energy, water and elements between ecosystems and their surroundings. We use observations, experiments and models to improve understanding of how human activities are altering ecosystem function, and the consequences of those changes for sustainability and regional/global climate.

We explore several aspects of ecosystem function and how it is altered by climate and land use:

- Allocation of the products of photosynthesis among respiration, storage, growth, transfer to the rhizosphere and defense

- Factors determining the age and transit time of carbon in soils

- Links between microbial community function and the diversity of organic compounds and gases found in soils and groundwater

- Landscape scale processes such as windthrow, herbivory, and fire

- Understanding how environmental conditions are recored in the isotopic composition of biomarker molecules


April 9, 2019:
Michelle Robin, Master student at the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA), is currently visiting the institute. She studies VOCs within the ATTO project under the supervision of Eliane Gomes-Alves. Michelle will be here until May 19th and is staying in office B1.019. Welcome!

January 18, 2019:
Members from our department are convening or co-convening sessions at this years EGU 2019 general assembly. They are:

  • Gerd Gleixner: Functions and Functioning of the Critical Zone (BG2.19 / SSS13.4)
  • Gerd Gleixner (Co-Chair): Application of stable isotopes in Biogeosciences (BG1.1 / GMPV7.12 / HS11.54 / OS3.8 / SSS12.15)
  • Henrik Hartmann (Co-Chair): Carbon allocation in plants and ecosystems: mechanisms, responses and biogeochemical implications (BG2.49)
  • Jošt Lavrič: Intact Amazon forest – a natural laboratory of global significance (BG2.4 / AS3.35 / HS11.64 / SSS10.12)
  • Marion Schrumpf, Carlos Sierra (Co-Chair): Carbon sequestration and timescales of Carbon Cycling in Soils and whole Ecosystems: Observations, Data Synthesis and Modelling (SSS5.2)

December 21, 2018:
Yesterday, Verónika Ceballos-Núñez gave herself an early Christmas present and successfully defended her PhD on "Nonlinearities in Carbon Allocation and Vegetation Functioning”. Congratulations!

December 13, 2018:
On Tuesday, Stefan Karlowsky successfully defended his PhD on "Mechanisms of Resistance and Resilience in the Plant-Soil System of Mountain Grassland Communinities”. Congratulations!

November 7, 2018:
Henrik Hartmann from our Plant Allocation group was a guest on the radio show "IQ - Wissenschaft und Forschung" von Bayern 2. He talked about how his love for trees awakened his desire to study and understand forest ecosystems. You can listen to the interview (in German) here (first part of the show).

November 1, 2018:
Christie Goodale from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY is visiting the institute this week. She will give a talk in the BGC-Seminar today on "Nitrogen fate and effects on ecosystem carbon storage". Anyone interested in speaking with her should contact Sue Trumbore.

October 19, 2018:
We currently have two visiting scientists in our depart. Angelica Resende is a PhD student at the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA) in Manaus, Brazil and is here to measure 14C in trees. Renata Jou from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is prepping soil samples for 14C analysis.

September 24, 2018:
Today, Jianbei Huang successfully defended his PhD on "Trade-offs between growth, storage and defense in plants under carbon limitation”. Congratulations!

September 10, 2018:
This week 14Constraint project group is hosting a “hack-a-thon” with colleagues from the Powell Center to work on the International Soil Radiocarbon Database (IsRad) and the publication announcing its official launch.

Latest Publications

1Nair, R. K. F., Kendalynn, A. M., Hertel, M., Luo, Y., Moreno, G., Reichstein, M., Schrumpf, M., Migliavacca, M. (2019). N?:?P stoichiometry and habitat effects on Mediterranean savanna seasonal root dynamics. Biogeosciences, 16(9), 1883-1901. doi:10.5194/bg-16-1883-2019.
2Conte, L., Renner, M., Brando, P., Santos, C. O. d., Silvério, D., Kolle, O., Trumbore, S. E., Kleidon, A. (2019). Effects of tropical deforestation on surface energy balance partitioning in southeastern Amazonia estimated from maximum convective power. Geophysical Research Letters. doi:10.1029/2018GL081625.
3Schwab, V. F., Nowak, M., Trumbore, S. E., Xu, X., Gleixner, G., Muhr, J., Kuesel, K., Totsche, K. U. (2019). Isolation of individual saturated fatty acid methyl esters derived from groundwater phospholipids by preparative high-pressure liquid chromatography for compound-specific radiocarbon analyses. Water Resources Research, 55(3), 2521-2531. doi:10.1029/2018WR024076.
4Schwab, V. F., Nowak, M., Elder, C. D., Trumbore, S. E., Xu, X., Gleixner, G., Lehmann, R., Pohnert, G., Muhr, J., Kuesel, K., Totsche, K. U. (2019). C-14-free carbon is a major contributor to cellular biomass in geochemically distinct groundwater of shallow sedimentary bedrock aquifers. Water Resources Research, 55(3), 2104-2121. doi:10.1029/2017WR022067.
5Levick, S. R., Richards, A. E., Cook, G. D., Schatz, J., Guderle, M., Williams, R. J., Subedi, P., Trumbore, S. E., Andersen, A. N. (2019). Rapid response of habitat structure and above-ground carbon storage to altered fire regimes in tropical savanna. Biogeosciences, 16(7), 1493-1503. doi:10.5194/bg-16-1493-2019.

>> see all Department Publications

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