© J. Helm/BGC

Department Biogeochemical Processes

Prof. Trumbore

The Biogeochemical Processes Division studies key processes and organisms that regulate the exchange of energy, water, and chemical compounds between ecosystems and their environments, and how these processes are affected by changes in climate and land use.

Within this broad goal, the Department maintains a focus on processes that are critical to understanding feedbacks between the land carbon cycle and climate and where lack of fundamental understanding currently limits the ability to predict the role of land as a source or sink for carbon in the coming decades to centuries. Broadly, the research in the Department shares the common goal to investigate processes that control how long carbon resides in ecosystem compartments, at spatial scales that span organisms to landscapes. Because of the importance of carbon to living organisms in storing energy and building structures, these processes are also fundamental to the functioning of ecosystems and their response to change.  

At the organism (microbe or plant) scale, we investigate how environmental controls such as drought or substrate availability influence resource allocation and activity in ways that can alter the timescales of carbon storage. At the ecosystem scale, we investigate how biotic (e.g. community diversity) and abiotic factors (mineralogy or climate) alter land-atmosphere exchange and the timescales for stabilization or destabilization of C in soils. At the landscape scale, we assess how disturbance processes such as fire, drought, windthrow and herbivory, can alter ecosystem carbon stocks and cycling.

Approaches and Tools

Quantifying responses and feedbacks in complex, coupled systems requires a range of tools and approaches. Laboratory experiments manipulate individual factors such as temperature, biodiversity or nutrient availability to document how different components of the ecosystem respond to changing environmental conditions. We participate in large field experiments that manipulate biodiversity (Jena experiment) and disturbances such as fire (Tanguro experiment).  Field observations of gradients of biodiversity through land management (Biodiversity Exploratories), or windthrows (ATTO) provide long-term field ‘experiments’.  Links to our own Theory group, as well as other modeling groups in the Institute allow us to use our results to test theories/models of ecosystem/organism function. We also actively develop new analytical tools that allow us to evaluate the importance of processes across a range of spatial and temporal scales.

Recent Publications

Brandt, L.; Poll, C.; Ballauff, J.; Schrumpf, M.; Bramble, D. S.; Schöning, I.; Ulrich, S.; Kaiser, K.; Mikutta, R.; Mikutta, C. et al.; Polle, A.; Kandeler, E.: Mineral type versus environmental filters: What shapes the composition and functions of fungal communities in the mineralosphere of forest soils? Soil Biology and Biochemistry 190, 109288 (2024)
Premaratne, K. M.; Chandrajithhttps, R.; Ratnayake, N. P.; Li, S.-L.; Gayantha, K.; Routhhttps, J.: North Atlantic forcing of Indian Winter Monsoon intensification: Evidence from Holocene sediments from the tropical Indian Ocean Island of Sri Lanka. The Holocene 34 (3), pp. 272 - 282 (2024)
Wang, G.; Wang, M.; Xiao, L.; Sierra, C.; Chang, J.; Shi, Z.; Luo, Z.: Fast transit of carbon inputs in global soil profiles regardless of entering depth. Earth's Future 12 (2), e2023EF003982 (2024)
Rog, I.; Hilman, B.; Fox, H.; Yalin, D.; Qubaja, R.; Klein, T.: Increased belowground tree carbon allocation in a mature mixed forest in a dry versus a wet year. Global Change Biology 30 (2), e17172 (2024)
Neyret, M.; Le Provost, G.; Boesing, A. L.; Schneider, F. D.; Baulechner, D.; Bergmann, J.; de Vries, F.; Fiore-Donno, A. M.; Geisen, S.; Goldmann, K. et al.; Merges, A.; Saifutdinov, R. A.; Simons, N. K.; Tobias, J. A.; Zaitsev, A. S.; Gossner, M. M.; Jung, K.; Kandeler, E.; Krauss, J.; Penone, C.; Schloter, M.; Schulz, S.; Staab, M.; Wolters, V.; Apostolakis, A.; Birkhofer, K.; Boch, S.; Boeddinghaus, R. S.; Bolliger, R.; Bonkowski, M.; Buscot, F.; Dumack, K.; Fischer, M.; Gan, H. Y.; Heinze, J.; Hölzel, N.; John, K.; Klaus, V. H.; Kleinebecker, T.; Marhan, S.; Müller, J.; Renner, S. C.; Rillig, M.; Schenk, N. V.; Schöning, I.; Schrumpf, M.; Seibold, S.; Socher, S.; Solly, E. F.; Teuscher, M.; van Kleunen, M.; Wubet, T.; Manning, P.: A slow-fast trait continuum at the whole community level in relation to land-use intensification. Nature Communications 15, 1251 (2024)
Glatthorn, J.; Maier, B.; Binder, F.; Brang, P.; Frischbier, N.; Horna, V.; Klumpp, R.; Nikolova, P. S.; Aas, G.: Limited influence of air temperature and precipitation on six-year survival and growth of non-native tree species in a Central European multi-site field trial. Forest Ecology and Management 553, 121645 (2024)
Lange, M.; Azizi-Rad, M.; Dittmann, G.; Lange, D. F.; Orme, A. M.; Schroeter, S. A.; Simon, C.; Gleixner, G.: Stability and carbon uptake of the soil microbial community is determined by differences between rhizosphere and bulk soil. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 189, 109280 (2024)
Salomón, R. L.; Helm, J.; Gessler, A.; Grams, T. E. E.; Hilman, B.; Muhr, J.; Steppe, K.; Wittmann, C.; Hartmann, H.: The quandary of sources and sinks of CO2 efflux in tree stems - new insights and future directions. Tree Physiology (accepted)
Xu, C.; Liu, H.; Ciais, P.; Hartmann, H.; Camarero, J. J.; Wu, X.; Hammond, W. M.; Allen, C. D.; Chen, F.: Enhanced drought exposure increasingly threatens more forests than observed. Earth's Future 12 (1), e2023EF003705 (2024)
Estupinan-Suarez, L. M.; Mahecha, M. D.; Brenning, A.; Kraemer, G.; Poveda, G.; Reichstein, M.; Sierra, C.: Spatial patterns of vegetation activity related to ENSO in Northern South America. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences 129 (1), e2022JG007344 (2024)

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