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Frontiers in experimental research on changing environments

125 years of the field research station in Bad Lauchstädt

Bad Lauchstädt Foto: André Künzelmann/ UFZ

We are pleased to invite you to join us in Halle, Germany, from 22 till 24 June 2020 for the conference “Frontiers in experimental research on changing environments” to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the UFZ’s Experimental Research Station Bad Lauchstädt. The conference is jointly organized by the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research – iDiv. The aim of the conference is to discuss advances of field experiments in ecological and environmental research to better understand responses of terrestrial ecosystems to human-made environmental changes, to unravel mechanisms behind these responses, and to enable more sustainable land-use practices. The conference will be open to research in all types of terrestrial ecosystems, and will cover a broad range of topics, such as the ecosystem impacts of land-use change, of climate change, of air and soil pollution and nutrient deposition, of changing biodiversity, as well as the role of context dependencies and interactions among drivers for the above-ground and the soil sub-system.

We will have two and a half days of exciting presentations and an excursion to our Experimental Station Bad Lauchstädt. Besides the various long-term field experiments, this includes the Global Change Experimental Facility, a large field experiment investigating the interactive effects of land use and climate change on above- and below-ground biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and the iDiv Ecotron designed to manipulate below- and above-ground biodiversity across trophic levels. We have invited five international keynote speakers who will cover a diverse set of topics in experimental ecological or environmental research. Conference language will be English, and the venue of the conference will be the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in Halle.

Keynote speaker

Ingrid Kögel-Knabner
Prof. Dr. Ingrid Kögel-Knabner│Professorship Soil Science, TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan

TUWZO9R Lehrstuhl für Bodenkunde (Prof. Kögel-Knabner) 85354 Freising, Emil-Ramann-Str. 2    

Phone +49 (8161) 71 - 517
E-mail    website

Academic career and research areas

Soil processes and soil management, especially the type and intensity of land use, affect the global carbon cycle. Prof. Kögel-Knabner (b. 1958) investigates the formation, composition and properties of organic matter in soils and their central role in the global carbon cycle. She uses sophisticated spectroscopic methods, such as 13C NMR spectroscopy and nanoSIMS, to investigate the association of organic and mineral matter in soils at the submicron scale. Prof. Kögel-Knabner studied geoecology at the University of Bayreuth, where she also obtained a doctorate in soil science (1987) and earned her post-doctoral teaching qualification (Habilitation 1992). In 1991, she was appointed to a professorship for soil science and soil ecology at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. Since 1995, she has served as Chair of Soil Science at TUM. Prof. Kögel-Knabner is a member of academies (Leopoldina, acatech, Bavarian Academy of Sciences) and was member of the Bioeconomy Council of the German Federal Government. Since 2015, she has been on the list of "Highly Cited Researchers", and counts among the most cited scientists in the world.


  • German Environment Award, German Federal Environment Foundation (2019)
  • Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art (2018)
  • Philippe-Duchaufour-Medal, European Geosciences Union (2015)
  • Emil-Ramann-Medal, German Soil Science Society (2015)
  • Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2013)

Key Publications

Vogel C, Mueller CW, Höschen C, Buegger F, Heister K, Schulz S, Schloter M, Kögel-Knabner I: "Submicron structures provide preferential spots for carbon and nitrogen sequestration in soils". Nature Communications. 2014; 5: 2947.

Wiesmeier M, Spörlein P, Geuß U, Hangen E, Haug S, Reischl A, Schilling B, von Lützow M, Kögel-Knabner I: "Soil organic carbon stocks in southeast Germany (Bavaria) as affected by land use, soil type and sampling depth". Global Change Biology. 2012; 18: 2233-2245.

Rumpel C, Kögel-Knabner I: “Deep soil organic matter a key but poorly understood component of terrestrial C cycle”. Plant and Soil. 2011; 338: 143-158.

Kögel-Knabner I, Amelung W, Cao ZH, Fiedler S, Frenzel P, Jahn R, Kalbitz K, Kölbl A, Schloter M: “Biogeochemistry of paddy soils”. Geoderma. 2010; 157: 1-14.

Kögel-Knabner I, Ekschmitt K, Flessa H, Guggenberger G, Matzner E, Marschner B, Von Lützow M: “An integrative approach of organic matter stabilization in temperate soils: Linking chemistry, physics, and biology”. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science. 2008; 171: 5-13.

Forest Isbell
Forest Isbell│Associate Director of Cedar Creek, Assistant Professor in Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior

University of Minnesota, College of Biological Sciences Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA
E-mail website

Research interests

• Biodiversity
• Ecosystem functioning
• Stability
• Ecosystem services
• Nutrient enrichment
• Land use changes
• Exotic species
• Extreme climatic events

Research statement

I am broadly interested in questions at the intersection of community and ecosystem ecology. I use field experiments to investigate the causes and consequences of changes in plant diversity, often in grasslands at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. I also lead synthesis studies across many ecosystems to determine the generality of our findings at Cedar Creek.

To understand the causes of changes in plant diversity, I study how biodiversity responds to anthropogenic drivers, such as land use changes, nutrient enrichment, exotic species invasions, and extreme climatic events. I am particularly interested in whether cessation of these anthropogenic perturbations leads to recovery of biodiversity, or whether the community remains stuck in a depauperate state. To understand the consequences of changes in plant diversity, I study how ecosystem functioning (for example, productivity) and ecosystem services (for example, carbon storage for climate regulation) respond to changes in plant diversity. I am now combining these efforts to quantify the extent to which anthropogenic drivers influence ecosystem processes by restructuring communities and altering biodiversity.

Selected Publications

Isbell, F., D. Tilman, P. B. Reich, and A. T. Clark. 2019. Deficits of biodiversity and productivity linger a century after agricultural abandonment. Nature Ecology and Evolution 3:1533-1538

, et al. 2017 Linking the influence and dependence of people on biodiversity across scales Nature 546:65-72

Isbell, et al. 2017 Benefits of increasing plant diversity in sustainable agroecosystems Journal of Ecology 105:871-879

Isbell, F., et al. 2015. Biodiversity increases the resistance of ecosystem productivity to climate extremes. Nature 526:574-577.

Isbell, F., et al. 2015. The biodiversity-dependent ecosystem service debt. Ecology Letters 18:119-134.

Hautier, Y., D. Tilman, F. Isbell, et al. 2015. Anthropogenic environmental changes affect ecosystem stability via biodiversity. Science 348:336-340.

Isbell, F.
, et al. 2013. Nutrient enrichment, biodiversity loss, and consequent declines in ecosystem productivity. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 110:11911–11916.

Isbell, F.
, et al. 2013. Low biodiversity state persists two decades after cessation of nutrient enrichment. Ecology Letters 16:454-460.

Reich, P. B., D. Tilman, F. Isbell, et al. 2012. Impacts of biodiversity loss escalate through time as redundancy fades. Science 336:589-592.

Tilman, D., P. B. Reich, and F. Isbell. 2012. Biodiversity impacts ecosystem productivity as much as resources, disturbance, or herbivory. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 109:10394–10397.

Isbell, F.
, et al. 2011. High plant diversity is needed to maintain ecosystem services. Nature 477:199-202.

Isbell, F.
I., and B. J. Wilsey. 2011. Increasing native, but not exotic, biodiversity increases aboveground productivity in ungrazed and intensely grazed grasslands. Oecologia 165: 771-781.

Antia Risch

PD Dr. sc. Anita Christina Risch│Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

Community Ecology, Zuercherstrasse 111, 8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland

E-mail webite

Research interests

  • Ecosystem C and nutrient cycling
  • Grassland – grazer interactions
  • Above / belowground C and nutrient fluxes and pools
  • Organic matter decomposition processes - Effect of vertebrates and invertebrates / nutrient additions on forest and grassland ecosystem processes
  • Vegetation ecology
  • Forest and grassland dynamics, successional patterns and processes

Professional and Research Interests
I am a theoretical and applied ecologist studying the impacts of global change on the biodiversity and functioning of whole ecosystems. Thereby the focus is on how nutrient additions as well as changes in vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores communities affect above- and belowground carbon and nutrient cycling, vegetation dynamics and successional processes. My research incorporates the fields of community ecology, ecosystem ecology, entomology, and soil ecology and has a strong multidisciplinary character. Researcher ID: A-9836-2012, ORCID: 0000-0003-0531-8336

2010 Habilitation at ETH Zurich, Department of Environmental sciences (PD ETH Zurich)
2004-2006 Postdoctoral Training at Syracuse University, NY, USA
2001-2004 PhD studies at WSL and ETH Zurich in Forest Ecology (Dr. sc. ETH Zurich)
1999-2000 Master’s studies at Michigan Technological University, MI, USA in Forestry / Forest Ecology (MSc Forestry)
1994-1999 Bachelor and Master’s studies at ETH Zurich in Systematics and Ecology (Eidg. Dipl. Natw./ MSc in Biology)

Work Experience
2019 – present Visiting Fellow (adjunct), Queensland University of Technology, Australia
2018 – present Senior Scientist at WSL
2010-present Private lecturer (PD) at ETH Zurich
2006-present Group leader Plant-Animal Interactions; research unit Community Ecology at WSL
2006-present Graduate faculty and adjunct professor at Michigan Technological University, MI, USA (adjunct full professor since 2016)
2008-2010 Lecturer at ETH Zurich, Department of Environmental Sciences
2004-2006 Research associate, Syracuse University, NY, USA
2001-2004 Research scientist at WSL
2000 Research scientist at Michigan Technological University, MI, USA
1996-1999 Research assistant at ETH Zurich (Geobotanical Institute)
1994-1999 Part time assistant and secretary at UBS Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Grants obtained
Career total: 4.3 Million CHF (PI & Co-PI)

  • 2.6 Million CHF from National Science Foundations (Switzerland, Finland)
  • 1.7 Million CHF from governmental agencies (BAFU, SNP) and WSL internal grants

Publication record

  • h-index; numbers of citations
    Google Scholar: h-index = 31, number of citations = 4297
  • ISI publications:
    94 (21 first; 6 second, 27 senior author)
  • Book chapters / publications for the general public:
    Career total: 28 (9 first author)
  • Publications without review
    Career total: 21

Currently teaching 40 hours/year at ETH Zurich where I am PD since 2010 and lecturer since 2008; I co-taught four different MSc and BSc topics since 2000

Supervision of theses
3 Postdocs, 5 PhD students, 20 MSc students, 4 BSc students

Selected professional activities

  • Associate Editor for “Ecology & Evolution”; open access journal of the British Ecological Society
  • Scientific reviews for over 30 journals in different research fields (ecology, soil science, entomology, agricultural sciences, forestry, landscape ecology);
  • Last five years: 11 invited talks (Scientific and governmental workshops, departmental seminars, SCNAT annual meeting, NGOs)
  • Session co-organizer at the British Ecological Society Annual meeting 2017, EGU General Assembly 2007, Session chair Soil Society of America Annual Meetings 2006

Selected publications
Sitters, J., Wubs, E.R.J., Bakker, L.S., Crowther, T.W., Adler, P.B., Bagchi, S., Bakker, J.D, Biedermann, L., Borer, E.T., Cleland, E.E., Eisenhauer, N., Firn, J., Gherardi, L., Hagenah, N., Hautier, Y., Hobbie, S.E., Knops, J.M.H., MacDougall, A.S., McCulley, R.L., Moore, J.L., Mortensen, B., Peri, P.L., Prober, S.M., Riggs, C., Risch, A.C., Schütz, M., Seabloom, E.W., Siebert, J., Stevens, C.J., Veen, G.F. (Ciska). (accepted) Nutrient availability controls the impact of mammalian herbivores on soil carbon and nitrogen pools in grasslands. Global Change Biology

Risch, A.C., Zimmermann, S., Ochoa-Hueso, R., Schütz, M., Frey, B., Firn, J.L., Fay, P.A., Hagedorn, F., Borer E.T., Seabloom E.W., Harpole, W.S., Knops, J.M.H., McCulley, R.L., Broadbent, A.A.D., Stevens, C.J., Silveira, M.L., Adler, P.B., Baez Jacome, V.S., Biederman, L.A., Blair, J.M., Brown, C.S., Caldeira, M.C., Collins, S.L., Daleo, P., di Virgilio, A., Ebeling, A., Eisenhauer, N., Esch, E., Eskelinen, A., Hagenah, N., Hautier, Y., Kirkman, K.P., MacDougall, A.S., Moore, J.L., Power, S.A., Prober, S.M., Roscher, C., Sankaran, M., Siebert, J., Speziale, K.L., Tognetti, P.M., Virtanen, R., Yahdjian, L., Moser, B. (2019) Soil net nitrogen mineralisation in global grasslands. Nature Communications 10: 4981.

Risch, A.C., Ochoa-Hueso, R., van der Putten, W.H., Bump, J.K., Busse, M.D., Frey, B., Gwiazdowicz, D.J., Page-Dumroese, D.S., Vandegehuchte, M.L., Zimmermann, S., Schuetz, M. (2018) Size-dependent loss of aboveground animals differently affects grassland ecosystem coupling and critical functions. Nature Communications 9: 3684.

Vandegehuchte, M.L., Trivellone, V., Schütz, M., Firn, J., de Schaetzen, F., Risch, A.C. (2018) Trait- and density-mediated effects of mammalian herbivores on leafhopper community structure and body size. Functional Ecology 32: 545-555.

Risch, A.C., Schütz, M., Vandegehuchte, M.L., van der Putten, W.H., Duyts, H., Raschein, U., Gwiazdowicz D.J., Busse M.D., Page-Dumroese D.S., Zimmermann S. (2015) Aboveground vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores impact on net N mineralization in subalpine grasslands of the Swiss Alps. Ecology 96: 3312-3322.

Borer, E.T., Seabloom E.W., Gruner, D.S., Harpole, W.S., Hillebrand, H., Lind, E.M., Adler, PB., Alberti, J., Anderson, T.M., Bakker, J.D., Biderman, L., Blumenthal, D., Brown, C.S., Brudvig, L.A., Buckley, Y.M., Cadotte, M., Chu, C., Clealand, E.E., Crawley, M.J., Daleo, P., Damschen E.I., Davies, K.F., DeCrappeo, N.M., Du, G., Firn, J., Hautier, Y., Heckmann, R.W., Hector, A., HilleRisLambers, J., Iribarne, O., Klein, J.A., Knops, J.M.H., La Pierre, K.J., Leakey, A.D.B., Li, W., MacDougall, A.S., McCulley, R.L., Melbourne, B.A., Mitchell, C.E., Moore, J.L., Mortensen, B., O’Halloran, L.R., Orrock, J.L., Pascual, J., Prober, S.M., Pyke, D.A., Risch, A.C., Schuetz, M., Smith, M.D., Stevens, C.J., Sullivan, L.L., Williams, R.J., Wragg, P.D., Wright, J.P., Yang, L.H. (2014) Herbivores and nutrients control grassland plant diversity via light limitation. Nature 508: 517-520

Finer, L., Jurgensen, M.F., Domisch, T., Kilpeläinen, J., Neuvonen, S., Punttila, P., Risch, A.C., Ohashi, M., Niemelä, P. (2013). The role of wood ants (Formica rufa group) in carbon and nutrient dynamics of a boreal Norway spruce forest ecosystem. Ecosystems 16:196-208

Risch, A.C., Anderson, T.M., Schütz, M. (2012) Soil CO2 emissions associated with termitaria in tropical savanna: evidence for hot-spot compensation. Ecosystems 15: 1147-1157.

Osvaldo Sala
Osvaldo Sala│Founding Director
Global Drylands Center
School of Life Sciences Arizona State University PO Box 874501 Tempe, AZ 85287-4501

Phone 480-965-4120
E-mail website

Research areas

  • Microclimate
  • Agriculture
  • Climate change
  • Biodiversity
  • Ecology
  • Natural resources
  • Ecosystems
  • Botany
  • Life on land
  • Terrestrial ecology
  • Natural resource management
  • Scenario analysis
  • Geochemistry
  • Desertification
  • Climate change and adaptation
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Bioenergy
  • Ecosystem services
  • Modeling and simulation
  • Socioecology
  •  Complex relationships

Osvaldo Sala joined Arizona State University as a Julie A. Wrigley Professor in the School of Life Science and School of Sustainability in August 2010. As current president of the Ecological Society of America and active field ecologists , Sala is an international leader in ecological science and global environmental policy.

Sala has explored several topics throughout his career including water controls on carbon and nitrogen dynamics in arid and semi-arid ecosystems, the consequences of changes in biodiversity on the functioning of ecosystems, and the development of biodiversity scenarios for the next 50 years. While pursuing all these different questions, he used different tools from direct observations, manipulative field experiments, to simulation modeling. His work encompasses a broad range of scales from the global to specific regions. He has worked in the Patagonian steppe, annual grasslands of California, steppes of Colorado and deserts of Southern Africa and currently he has experiments in the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico. His work is reflected in more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and several co-authored books.

Osvaldo Sala is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Argentinean National Academy of Sciences, and the Argentinean National Academy of Physical and Natural Sciences and is Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, Ecological Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Key Publications


Andriuzzi, W. S., A. L. Franco, K. E. Ankrom, S. Cui, C. Milano de Tomasel, P. Guan, L. A. Gherardi, O. E. Sala and D. H. Wall. 2020. Body size structure of soil fauna along geographic and temporal gradients of precipitation in grasslands. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 140(Jan):107638. DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2019.107638.


Apodaca, M., J. McInerney, O. E. Sala, L. Katinas and J. Crisci. 2019. A concept map of evolutionary biology to promote meaningful learning in biology. American Biology Teacher 81(2):79-87. DOI: 10.1525/abt.2019.81.2.79.

Corman, J. R., S. L. Collins, E. M. Cook, X. Dong, L. A. Gherardi, N. B. Grimm, R. L. Hale, T. Liu, J. Ramos, L. G. Reichmann and O. E. Sala. 2019. Foundations and frontiers of ecosystem science: Legacy of a classic paper (Odum 1969). Ecosystems 22(5):1160-1172. DOI: 10.1007/s10021-018-0316-3

Delgado-Baquerizo, M., R. D. Bardgett, P. M. Vitousek, F. Maestre, M. A. Williams, D. J. Eldridge, H. Lambers, S. Neuhauser, A. Gallardo, L. García-Velázquez, O. E. Sala, S. Abades, F. D. Alfaro, A. A. Berhe, M. A. Bowker, C. M. Currier, N. A. Cutler, S. C. Hart, P. E. Hayes, Z. Hseu, M. Kirchmair, V. M. Pena-Ramirez, C. A. Perez, S. C. Reed, F. Santos, C. Siebe, B. W. Sullivan, L. Weber-Grullon and N. Fierer. 2019. Changes in belowground biodiversity during ecosystem development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116(14):6891-6896. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1818400116.

Franco, A. L., L. A. Gherardi, C. Milano de Tomasel, W. S. Andriuzzi, K. E. Ankrom, E. A. Shaw, E. M. Bach, O. E. Sala and D. H. Wall. 2019. Drought suppresses soil predators and promotes root herbivores in mesic, but not in xeric grasslands. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116(26):12883-12888. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1900572116.

Gherardi, L. A. and O. E. Sala. 2019. Effect of interannual precipitation variability on dryland productivity: A global synthesis. Global Change Biology 25(1):269-276. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.14480.

Komatsu, K., M. L. Avolio, N. P. Lemoine, F. Isbell, E. Grman, G. R. Houseman, S. E. Koerner, D. S. Johnson, K. R. Wilcox, J. M. Alatalo, J. P. Anderson, R. Aerts, S. G. Baer, A. H. Baldwin, J. Bates, C. Beierkuhnlein, R. T. Belote, J. Blair, J. M. Bloor, P. J. Bohlen, E. W. Bork, E. H. Boughton, W. D. Bowman, A. J. Britton, J. F. Cahill Jr, E. Chaneton, N. R. Chiariello, J. Cheng, S. L. Collins, J. H. Cornelissen, G. Du, A. Eskelinen, J. Fim, B. Foster, L. Gough, K. Gross, L. M. Hallett, X. Han, H. Harmens, M. J. Hovenden, A. Jagerbrand, A. Jentsch, C. Kern, K. Klanderud, A. K. Knapp, J. Kreyling, W. Li, Y. Luo, R. L. McCulley, J. R. McLaren, J. P. Megonigal, J. W. Morgan, V. G. Onipchenko, S. C. Pennings, J. Prevey, J. N. Price, P. B. Reich, C. H. Robinson, F. L. Russell, O. E. Sala, E. W. Seabloom, M. D. Smith, N. A. Soudzilovskaia, L. Souza, K. N. Suding, K. B. Suttle, T. Svejcar, D. Tilman, P. M. Tognetti, R. Turkington, S. R. White, Z. Xu, L. Yahdjian, Q. Yu, P. Zhang and Y. Zhang. 2019. Global change effects on plant communities are magnified by time and the number of global change factors imposed. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116(36):17867-17873. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1819027116.

Sala, O. E., C. G. Boone, B. L. Turner II and C. M. Currier. 2019. The sustainability publication gap and its implications. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 39(Aug):39-43. DOI: 10.1016/j.cosust.2019.06.006