Soil Ecology & Global Change

The research conducted in the Soil Ecology and Global Change group focuses on the consequences of environmental change for plant communities and the biogeochemical cycling of nutrients and water in ecosystems. A special emphasis is on plant-soil interactions in both agronomic and natural ecosystems, and how these affect soil structure and the ecosystem's greenhouse gas balance (CO2, CH4, N2O). Methodologically, these questions are tackled using a wide range of analytical tools, including isotope labelling, gas exchange techniques, and the genetic analysis of soil microbial communities.

Head of group: PD Dr. Pascal Niklaus

Research themes:

  • Carbon sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems
  • Mechanisms controlling soil greenhouse gas efflux incl. CH4 and N2O
  • Effects of plant biodiversity on the structure and functioning of ecosystems

Ongoing projects:

  • Plant competitive interactions under soil nutrient transport limitation (SNF)
  • Aboveground primary production in Chinese subtropical forest ecosystems: 
    Subproject 1: Primary production
    Subproject 5: Carbon storage and nutrient cycling 
  • Soil as a resource: The effect of climate and land use change on soil carbon in Swiss soils (SNF NRP68); together with S. Abiven
  • Cold ecosystems in a warmer world: tracing radiocarbon in plants and soils of high altitude (COST FP 803); together with F. Hagedorn
  • Priority Programme on Global Change and Biodiversity: Cross-scale quantification of vegetation–atmosphere interactions and biodiversity change; together with G. Schaepman-Strub
  • Ecology of soil methanotrophic bacteria (SNF)
  • Modelling of soil C fluxes under elevated CO2