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 2022:
Welcome to Viviana Horna, who just joinded the dapartment as the new Scientific Coordinator for of the ATTO project.

January 2022:
Welcome to Antje Uhde, a new PhD student in collaborarion with the Department of Geography at the University Jena, Jessica Finck, a new PhD student in the Molecular Biogeochemistry Group, and Hella van Asperen, who just started as a new PostDoc in the department as part of the ATTO project.

November 2021:
Welcome to Sam Jones, who just started as a new PostDoc in the department as part of the ATTO project.

September 2021:
Welcome to Estefanía Muñoz, who just started as a new PostDoc in the Theoretical Ecosystem Ecology group.

August 2021:
Welcome to Michelle Robin, who just started as a new Ph.D. student in the department.

July 2021:
Kasun Gayantha successfully defended his thesis on the "Multi-Proxy Reconstruction of South Asian Monsoon Variability in Sri Lanka". Congratulations!

April 2021:
Simon Benk successfully defended his thesis on the "Towards a data-driven understanding of Dissolved Organic Matter in the Critical Zone". Congratulations!
And welcome to two new members of the department, Frederik Lange and Maryam Moussavi. Frederik is a new Ph.D. student, who joined us earlier this year. Maryam is a data new data manager in the ATTO project, temporarily filling in for Marcus Guderle.

January 2021:
Welcome to all the new Ph.D. students, who joined as over the last several months. They are Beatrix Heinze, Akanksha Rai, Linda Lemanski, Andres Tangarife and De Shorn Bramble. We hope you had a good start even under these circumstances and will have a good time here with us!

March 2020:
Congratulations to Holger Metzler, who successfully defended his thesis on the "Compartmental systems as Markov chains: age, transit time, and entropy". Fortuntaly, the defense could take place in person, albeit closed to the public.

January 2020:
Alice Orme is a new PhD student in the Molecular Biogeochemistry group of Gerd Gleixner. For her thesis, she will focus on "Decoding the molecular signals of dissolved organic matter". Welcome, Alice!

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)

Latest Publications

1Apostolakis, A., Schöning, I., Michalzik, B., Klaus, V. H., Boeddinghaus, R. S., Kandeler, E., Marhan, S., Bolliger, R., Fischer, M., Prati, D., Hänsel, F., Nauss, T., Hölzel, N., Kleinebecker, T., Schrumpf, M. (2022). Drivers of soil respiration across a management intensity gradient in temperate grasslands under drought. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems. doi:10.1007/s10705-022-10224-2.
2Kang, R., Behrendt, T., Mulder, J., Dörsch, P. (2022). Soil moisture control of NO turnover and N2O release in nitrogen-saturated subtropical forest soils. Forests, 13: 1291. doi:10.3390/f13081291.
3Simon, C., Dührkop, K., Petras, D., Roth, V.-N., Böcker, S., Dorrestein, P. C., Gleixner, G. (2022). Mass difference matching unfolds hidden molecular structures of dissolved organic matter. Environmental Science & Technology, 56(15), 11027-11040. doi:10.1021/acs.est.2c01332.
4Sarquis, A., Siebenhart, I. A., Austin, A. T., Sierra, C. A. (2022). Aridec: an open database of litter mass loss from aridlands worldwide with recommendations on suitable model applications. Earth System Science Data, 14(7), 3471-3488. doi:10.5194/essd-14-3471-2022.
5Todd-Brown, K. E. O., Abramoff, R. Z., Beem-Miller, J., Blair, H. K., Earl, S., Frederick, K. J., Fuka, D. R., Santamaria, M. G., Harden, J. W., Heckman, K., Heran, L. J., Holmquist, J. R., Hoyt, A. M., Klinges, D. H., LeBauer, D. S., Malhotra, A., McClelland, S. C., Nave, L. E., Rocci, K. S., Schaeffer, S. M., Stoner, S., van Gestel, N., von Fromm, S. F., Younger, M. L. (2022). Reviews and syntheses: The promise of big diverse soil data, moving current practices towards future potential. Biogeosciences, 19(14), 3505-3522. doi:10.5194/bg-19-3505-2022.

>> see all Department Publications

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