Aboveground Primary Productivity in Forest Ecosystems


This project is part of a larger research program carried out with partners from China and Germany at a field site in China. A central question in biodiversity research is how experimental manipulations of plant diversity affect primary productivity. Grassland experiments have shown a positive relationship between the two variables, but it is not clear if the same holds for forests. In addition, the mechanisms by which diversity may affect productivity are hotly debated, in part because of limited information contained in previous experimental designs. We believe that the new experiment in combination with the comparative studies in subtropical China offers an ideal opportunity to address these questions.


Together with the subproject of the Chinese partner, Keping Ma, this subproject is obtaining estimates of different components of primary productivity at ecosystem level and relates them to observed or experimentally manipulated species richness, functional richness and single or joint occurrences of particular tree and shrub species. Whereas the subproject on the Chinese side focuses on belowground biomass production, this subproject focuses on aboveground biomass production, estimated via cover, basal stem area and plant height data.

Diversity–productivity relationships are analyzed in three parallel studies: A, in comparative study plots, B, in a pilot experiment and C, in the main tree and shrub biodiversity experiment.


Prof. Dr. Bernhard Schmid (Project leader)
PD Dr. Pascal Niklaus
Prof. Dr. Andy Hector
Martin Baruffol (Ph.D.)
Matteo Brezzi (Ph.D.)
Xuefei Li (Ph.D.)
Yuanyuan Huang (Ph.D.)

Co-operation partners

Prof. Keping Ma, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Prof. Jin-Sheng He, Peking University, China
Prof. Helge Bruelheide, University of Halle, Germany


  • Bruelheide H., Böhnke M., Both S., Fang T., Assmann T., Baruffol M., Bauhus J., Buscot F., Chen XY., Ding BY., Durka W., Erfmeier A., Fischer M., Geißler C., Guo D., Guo LD., Härdtle W., He JS., Hector A., Kröber W., Kühn P., Lang AC., Nadrowski K., Pei K., Scherer-Lorenzen M., Shi X., Scholten T., Schuldt A., Trogisch S., von Oheimb G., Welk E., Wirth C., Wu YT., Yang X., Zeng X., Zhang S., Zhou H., Ma K., Schmid B. (2011). Community assembly during secondary forest succession in a Chinese subtropical forest. Ecological Monographs, 81(1):25-41. DOI: 10.1890/09-2172.1
  • Schuldt A., Baruffol M., Böhnke M., Bruelheide H., Härdtle W., Lang AC., Nadrowski K., von Oheimb G., Voigt W., Zhou H., Assmann T. (2010). Tree diversity promotes insect herbivory in subtropical forests of south-east China. Journal of Ecology, 98(4):917-926. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2010.01659.x
  • Scherer-Lorenzen M., Potvin C., Koricheva J., Schmid B., Hector A., Bornik Z., Reynolds G., Schulze E-D. (2005). The design of experimental tree plantations for functional biodiversity research. In: M. Scherer-Lorenzen, C. Körner, E.-D. Schulze (eds.) Forest diversity and function: temperate and boreal systems. Springer, Berlin, pp. 347-376. DOI: 10.1007/3-540-26599-6_16