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Jena Experiment (Germany)

Biodiversity experiment with grassland species in Jena's Saale Valley

The Jena Experiment is a joint project of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena and the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry.
In the Jena Experiment, the relationships between plant biodiversity and ecosystem processes are investigated in one of the world's largest biodiversity experiments with grassland species. A central goal of the studies is to contribute to a mechanistic understanding of the relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem processes, for which the analysis of functional traits is an essential prerequisite.

History & Deskription

The Experiment was established in May 2002. The field test of the Jena Experiment covers about 10 ha of former agricultural land in the Saale floodplain in the east of Jena.

On the area there is a 5 m high tower made of aluminum scaffolding components. This is equipped with different sensors (see below).

On a swiveling boom are two temperature-humidity sensors (airtemp1, airtemp2 airhumi1, airhumi2). These measure in 2 different heights above the vegetation. Once a day at midnight they are calibrated by moving the boom to the horizontal position and both sensors operate at the same measuring height for a certain time. The station can be monitored by modem from the institute (see weather).

Because of the proximity to the Saale River, the entire area of the study area around the meteorological station is flooded during high water. The flood in May/ June 2013 was so severe that it took several months to repair all equipment.


Saale Valley

Areas with different grassland species Vegetation height variable

Meteorology Station
Latitude: 50.95
Longitude: 11.62
Elevation: 130 m a.s.l.


  • Since 2002 until today
  • Vegetation and Soil
  • Biodiversity experiment
  • Meteorology
  • Bowen ratio method
  • Soil parameters (temperature, moisture)
  • Surface temperature


Variables & Instruments


  • Wind speed and direction - 2D ultrasonic anemometer, Thies
  • Air pressure - precision barometer/pressure transducer RPT410V, Vaisala
  • Air Temperature and Humidity - Temperature-Humidity Sensor HMP35D, Vaisala
  • Air temperature and humidity (Bowen ratio) - temperature-humidity sensor CPC1_4-TH, Thies
  • Precipitation - heated tipping bucket precipitation gauge, Thies
  • Photosynthetically active radiation - PAR sensor PAR Lite, Kipp & Zonen
  • Solar radiation - radiation balance sensor CNR1, tilt & zones
  • Terrestrial radiation - Radiation Balance Sensor CNR1, Tilt & Zones
  • Sunshine Duration - Sunshine Duration Sensor CSD1, Tilt & Zones
  • Surface temperature - Infrared thermometer KT15, Heitronics

Soil conditions

  • Soil temperature profile with with 7 depths - Soil temperature sensor PT100, DIY
  • Soil moisture at 5 depths - Theta soil moisture probe ML-2x, Delta-T
  • Soil heat flux at 5 positions - Soil heat flux plates HP3/CN3, Rimco

Data acquisition

  • Meteorological data - Data logger CR23X, Campbell Scientific


Roscher, C.; Schmid, B.; Kolle, O.; Schulze, E. D.: Complementarity among four highly productive grassland species depends on resource availability. Oecologia 181 (2), pp. 571 - 582 (2016)
Allan, E.; Weisser, W. W.; Fischer, M.; Schulze, E.-D.; Weigelt, A.; Roscher, C.; Baade, J.; Barnard, R. L.; Bessler, H.; Buchmann, N. et al.; Ebeling, A.; Eisenhauer, N.; Engels, C.; Fergus, A. J. F.; Gleixner, G.; Gubsch, M.; Halle, S.; Klein, A. M.; Kertscher, I.; Kuu, A.; Lange, M.; Le Roux, X.; Meyer, S. T.; Migunova, V. D.; Milcu, A.; Niklaus, P. A.; Oelmann, Y.; Pasalic, E.; Petermann, J. S.; Poly, F.; Rottstock, T.; Sabais, A. C. W.; Scherber, C.; Scherer-Lorenzen, M.; Scheu, S.; Steinbeiss, S.; Schwichtenberg, G.; Temperton, V.; Tscharntke, T.; Voigt, W.; Wilcke, W.; Wirth, C.; Schmid, B.: A comparison of the strength of biodiversity effects across multiple functions. Oecologia 173, pp. 223 - 237 (2013)
Roscher, C.; Schumacher, J.; Lipowsky, A.; Gubsche, M.; Weigelt, A.; Pompe, S.; Kolle, O.; Buchmann, N.; Schmid, B.; Schulze, E.-D.: A functional trait-based approach to understand community assembly and diversity-productivity relationships over 7 years in experimental grasslands. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 15 (3), pp. 139 - 149 (2013)
Roscher, C.; Kutsch, W. L.; Kolle, O.; Ziegler, W.; Schulze, E. D.: Adjustment to the light environment in small-statured forbs as a strategy for complementary resource use in mixtures of grassland species. Annals of Botany 107 (6), pp. 965 - 979 (2011)
Gubsch, M.; Buchmann, N.; Schmid, B.; Schulze, E.-D.; Lipowsky, A.; Roscher, C.: Differential effects of plant diversity on functional trait variation of grass species. Annals of Botany 107 (1), pp. 157 - 169 (2011)
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