© 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

Wang, K.; Wang, C.; Fu, B.; Huang, J.; Wei, F.; Leng, X.; Feng, X.; Li, Z.; Jiang, W.: Divergent driving mechanisms of community temporal stability in China's drylands. Environmental Science and Ecotechnology 20, 100404 (2024)
de Sá, P. A.; Schöngart, J.; Wittmann, F.; Piedade, M. T. F.; Tommasiello-Filho, M.; Oliveira, R. S.; Horna, V.; Parolin, P.; Durgante, F. M.: Hydrological and climate intensification induces conservative behavior in the Hydrochorea corymbosa xylem production in a Central Amazon floodplain forest. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 12, 1292132 (2024)
Lehmanski, L. M. A.; Kösters, L. M.; Huang, J.; Göbel, M.; Gershenzon, J.; Hartmann, H.: Windthrow causes declines in carbohydrate and phenolic concentrations and increased monoterpene emission in Norway spruce. PLOS ONE 19 (5), e0302714 (2024)
von Fromm, S. F.; Hoyt, A. M.; Sierra, C.; Georgiou, K.; Doetterl, S.; Trumbore, S. E.: Controls and relationships of soil organic carbon abundance and persistence vary across pedo-climatic regions. Global Change Biology 30 (5), e17320 (2024)
Mori, G. B.; Schöngart, J.; Schietti, J.; Householder, J. E.; Robin, M.; Wittmann, F.; Poorter, L.; Piedade, M. T. F.: Ecosystem type affects how Amazonian tree species invest in stem and twig wood. Functional Ecology (2024)
Ramirez, J. A.; Craven, D.; Herrera-Ramirez, D.; Posada, J. M.; Reu, B.; Sierra, C. A.; Hoch, G.; Handa, I. T.; Messier, C.: Non-structural carbohydrate concentrations in tree organs vary across biomes and leaf habits, but are independent of the fast-slow plant economic spectrum. Frontiers in Plant Science 15, 1375958 (2024)
Netherer, S.; Lehmanski, L. M. A.; Bachlehner, A.; Rosner, S.; Savi, T.; Schmidt, A.; Huang, J.; Paiva, M. R.; Mateus, E.; Hartmann, H. et al.; Gershenzon, J.: Drought increases Norway spruce susceptibility to the Eurasian spruce bark beetle and its associated fungi. New Phytologist 242 (3), pp. 1000 - 1017 (2024)
Caetano Andrade, V. L.; Clement, C. R.; Herrera-Ramirez, D.; Larsen, T.; Durgante, F.; Boivin, N.; Schöngart, J.; Trumbore, S. E.; Roberts, P.: Insights into growth, ring formation and maximum ages of Brazil nut trees (Bertholletia excelsa) using 14C dating and tree-ring analysis. Radiocarbon 66 (2), pp. 306 - 325 (2024)
Wutzler, T.; Reimers, C.; Ahrens, B.; Schrumpf, M.: Optimal enzyme allocation leads to the constrained enzyme hypothesis: the Soil Enzyme Steady Allocation Model (SESAM; v3.1)). Geoscientific Model Development 17 (7), pp. 2705 - 2725 (2024)
Wilcke, W.; Zimmer, V.; Bauhus, J.; Schöning, I.; Schrumpf, M.; Michalzik, B.; Siemen, J.: Disentangling the effects of region, forest‑management intensity and plant diversity on litterfall quantity, quality and turnover in temperate forests. Plant and Soil 497, pp. 397 - 412 (2024)

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