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  1. A large body of research shows that biodiversity loss can reduce ecosystem functioning. However, much of the evidence for this relationship is drawn from biodiversity–ecosystem functioning experiments in which biodiversity loss is simulated by randomly assembling communities of varying species diversity, and ecosystem functions are measured. This random assembly has led some ecologists to question the relevance of biodiversity experiments to real-world ecosystems, where community assembly or disassembly may be non-random and influenced by external drivers, such as climate, soil conditions or land use. Here, we compare data from real-world grassland plant communities with data from two of the largest and longest-running grassland biodiversity experiments (the Jena Experiment in Germany and BioDIV in the United States) in terms of their taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic diversity and functional-trait composition. We found that plant communities of biodiversity experiments cover almost all of the multivariate variation of the real-world communities, while also containing community types that are not currently observed in the real world. Moreover, they have greater variance in their compositional features than their real-world counterparts. We then re-analysed a subset of experimental data that included only ecologically realistic communities (that is, those comparable to real-world communities). For 10 out of 12more »biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships, biodiversity effects did not differ significantly between the full dataset of biodiversity experiments and the ecologically realistic subset of experimental communities. Although we do not provide direct evidence for strong or consistent biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships in real-world communities, our results demonstrate that the results of biodiversity experiments are largely insensitive to the exclusion of unrealistic communities and that the conclusions drawn from biodiversity experiments are generally robust.« less
  2. Biodiversity-ecosystem functioning (BEF) research grew rapidly following concerns that biodiversity loss would negatively affect ecosystem functions and the ecosystem services they underpin. However, despite evidence that biodiversity strongly affects ecosystem functioning, the influence of BEF research upon policy and the management of ‘real-world’ ecosystems, i.e., semi-natural habitats and agroecosystems, has been limited. Here, we address this issue by classifying BEF research into three clusters based on the degree of human control over species composition and the spatial scale, in terms of grain, of the study, and discussing how the research of each cluster is best suited to inform particular fields of ecosystem management. Research in the first cluster, small-grain highly controlled studies, is best able to provide general insights into mechanisms and to inform the management of species-poor and highly managed systems such as croplands, plantations, and the restoration of heavily degraded ecosystems. Research from the second cluster, small-grain observational studies, and species removal and addition studies, may allow for direct predictions of the impacts of species loss in specific semi-natural ecosystems. Research in the third cluster, large-grain uncontrolled studies, may best inform landscape-scale management and national-scale policy. We discuss barriers to transfer within each cluster and suggest how newmore »research and knowledge exchange mechanisms may overcome these challenges. To meet the potential for BEF research to address global challenges, we recommend transdisciplinary research that goes beyond these current clusters and considers the social-ecological context of the ecosystems in which BEF knowledge is generated. This requires recognizing the social and economic value of biodiversity for ecosystem services at scales, and in units, that matter to land managers and policy makers.« less
  3. Abstract The leaf economics spectrum 1,2 and the global spectrum of plant forms and functions 3 revealed fundamental axes of variation in plant traits, which represent different ecological strategies that are shaped by the evolutionary development of plant species 2 . Ecosystem functions depend on environmental conditions and the traits of species that comprise the ecological communities 4 . However, the axes of variation of ecosystem functions are largely unknown, which limits our understanding of how ecosystems respond as a whole to anthropogenic drivers, climate and environmental variability 4,5 . Here we derive a set of ecosystem functions 6 from a dataset of surface gas exchange measurements across major terrestrial biomes. We find that most of the variability within ecosystem functions (71.8%) is captured by three key axes. The first axis reflects maximum ecosystem productivity and is mostly explained by vegetation structure. The second axis reflects ecosystem water-use strategies and is jointly explained by variation in vegetation height and climate. The third axis, which represents ecosystem carbon-use efficiency, features a gradient related to aridity, and is explained primarily by variation in vegetation structure. We show that two state-of-the-art land surface models reproduce the first and most important axis of ecosystem functions.more »However, the models tend to simulate more strongly correlated functions than those observed, which limits their ability to accurately predict the full range of responses to environmental changes in carbon, water and energy cycling in terrestrial ecosystems 7,8 .« less
  4. Abstract. Methane (CH4) emissions from natural landscapes constituteroughly half of global CH4 contributions to the atmosphere, yet largeuncertainties remain in the absolute magnitude and the seasonality ofemission quantities and drivers. Eddy covariance (EC) measurements ofCH4 flux are ideal for constraining ecosystem-scale CH4emissions due to quasi-continuous and high-temporal-resolution CH4flux measurements, coincident carbon dioxide, water, and energy fluxmeasurements, lack of ecosystem disturbance, and increased availability ofdatasets over the last decade. Here, we (1) describe the newly publisheddataset, FLUXNET-CH4 Version 1.0, the first open-source global dataset ofCH4 EC measurements (available at, last access: 7 April 2021). FLUXNET-CH4includes half-hourly and daily gap-filled and non-gap-filled aggregatedCH4 fluxes and meteorological data from 79 sites globally: 42freshwater wetlands, 6 brackish and saline wetlands, 7 formerly drainedecosystems, 7 rice paddy sites, 2 lakes, and 15 uplands. Then, we (2) evaluate FLUXNET-CH4 representativeness for freshwater wetland coverageglobally because the majority of sites in FLUXNET-CH4 Version 1.0 arefreshwater wetlands which are a substantial source of total atmosphericCH4 emissions; and (3) we provide the first global estimates of theseasonal variability and seasonality predictors of freshwater wetlandCH4 fluxes. Our representativeness analysis suggests that thefreshwater wetland sites in the dataset cover global wetland bioclimaticattributes (encompassing energy, moisture, and vegetation-relatedparameters) in arctic, boreal, and temperate regions but only sparselycovermore »humid tropical regions. Seasonality metrics of wetland CH4emissions vary considerably across latitudinal bands. In freshwater wetlands(except those between 20∘ S to 20∘ N) the spring onsetof elevated CH4 emissions starts 3 d earlier, and the CH4emission season lasts 4 d longer, for each degree Celsius increase in meanannual air temperature. On average, the spring onset of increasing CH4emissions lags behind soil warming by 1 month, with very few sites experiencingincreased CH4 emissions prior to the onset of soil warming. Incontrast, roughly half of these sites experience the spring onset of risingCH4 emissions prior to the spring increase in gross primaryproductivity (GPP). The timing of peak summer CH4 emissions does notcorrelate with the timing for either peak summer temperature or peak GPP.Our results provide seasonality parameters for CH4 modeling andhighlight seasonality metrics that cannot be predicted by temperature or GPP(i.e., seasonality of CH4 peak). FLUXNET-CH4 is a powerful new resourcefor diagnosing and understanding the role of terrestrial ecosystems andclimate drivers in the global CH4 cycle, and future additions of sitesin tropical ecosystems and site years of data collection will provide addedvalue to this database. All seasonality parameters are available at (Delwiche et al., 2021).Additionally, raw FLUXNET-CH4 data used to extract seasonality parameterscan be downloaded from (last access: 7 April 2021), and a completelist of the 79 individual site data DOIs is provided in Table 2 of this paper.« less