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Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies

Pascal A. Niklaus

Research interests

Plant and soil ecology; biogeochemical cycling; biodiversity and ecosystem functioning; global change; methane and nitrous oxide dynamics; statistical analysis;


Education and professional positions

2009 - present Senior Scientist at Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Leader of Global Change and Soil Ecology Group
2004 - 2010 Senior scientist at Institute of Plant Sciences, ETH Zurich, Coordinator of TUMSS methane research cluster and investigations of ecological controls of methane and nitrous oxide fluxes
2003 - 2004 Two-year scholarship (Treubel foundation of the Freiwillige Akademische Gesellschaft) for teaching, research, and 'habilitation' qualification at the University of Basel
2001 - 2002 National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship for Advanced Researchers. Grant title: "Interaction between atmospheric nitrogen deposition, plant species diversity, and soil methane consumption".
Research stays at IACR Rothamsted (UK) and Landcare Research (New Zealand)
1997 - 2000 Post-doctoral researcher (assistant) at the Institute of Botany, University of Basel, Switzerland (funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation within the Swiss Priority Programme Environment)
1994 - 1996 PhD-Assistant and part-time technician (electronics) at the University of Basel
1992 - 1993 Research technician at the Institute of Applied Plant Biology in Schönenbuch, Switzerland
1993 Design and construction of a fully automated CO2 enrichment facility at the University of Basel

Editorial services

since 2007 Handling Editor of Oecologia (Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology Section)
2010 - 2015 Editor of Scientific Reports (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)
2011 - 2012 Review editor of Frontiers in Functional Plant Ecology


  • Schnyder E, Bodelier PLE, Hartmann M, Henneberger R,Niklaus PA (2020) Experimental erosion of microbial diversity decreases soil CH4 consumption rates. bioRxiv DOI:10.1101/2020.03.24.003657v1
  • Wuest S, Pires ND, Luo S, Vasseur F, Messier J, Grossniklaus U, Niklaus PA (2019) Increasing plant group productivity through latent genetic variation for cooperation. bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/641449

Selected publications

  • Wuest SE, Pires ND, Luo S, Vasseur F, Messier J, Grossniklaus U, Niklaus PA (2022) Increasing plant group productivity through latent genetic variation for cooperation. PLoS Biology 20(11) e3001842. DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.3001842
  • Parreño MA, ..., Niklaus PA, ..., Petchey OL (2022) How puzzles are shaping our understanding of biodiversity. GAIA 31/3: 139-145.
  • Huang Y, Schuldt A, Hoenig L, Yang B, Liu X, Bruelheide H, MA K, Schmid B, Niklaus PA (2022) Effects of enemy exclusion on biodiversity–productivity relationships in a subtropical forest experiment. Journal of Ecology, 110: 2167-2178. DOI:10.1111/1365-2745.13940
  • Yang B, Liang Y, Schmid B, Baruffol M, Li YF, He L, Salmon Y, Tian QY, Niklaus PA, Ma KP (2022) Soil fungi promote biodiversity-productivity relationships in experimental communities of young trees. Ecosystems 25: 858-871. 10.1007/s10021-021-00689-7
  • Guillen-Escriba C, Schneider FD, Schmid B, Tedder A, Morsdorf F, Furrer R, Hueni A, Niklaus PA, Schaepman ME (2021) Remotely sensed between-individual functional trait variation in a temperate forest. Ecology & Evolution 16: 10834-10867
  • Wuest SE, Peter R, Niklaus PA (2021) Ecological and evolutionary approaches to improving crop variety mixtures. Nature Ecology & Evolution 5: 1068-1077.
  • Schmid MW, van Moorsel SJ, Hahl T, de Luca E, de Deyn GB, Wagg C, Niklaus PA, Schmid B (2021) Effects of plant community history, soil legacy and plant diversity on soil microbial communities. Journal of Ecology 109: 3007-3023.
  • Engelhardt IC, Niklaus PA, Bizouard F, Breuil MC, Rouard N, Deau F, Philippot L, Barnard R (2021) Precipitation patterns and N availability alter plant-soil microbial C and N dynamics. Plant and Soil 466: 151-163.
  • Iturrate-Garcia M, Heijmans MMPD, Cornelissen JHC, Schweingruber FH, Niklaus PA, Schaepman-Strub G (2020) Plant trait response of tundra shrubs to permafrost thaw and nutrient addition. Biogeosciences 17: 4981–4998 DOI:10.5194/bg-17-4981-2020
  • Zohner CM, ..., Niklaus PA, ..., Crowther TW (2020) Late-spring frost risk between 1959 and 2017 decreased in North America but increased in Europe and Asia. PNAS 117: 12192-12200 DOI:10.1073/pnas.1920816117
  • Visser AN, Wankel SD, Niklaus PA, Byrne JM, Kappler AA, Lehmann MF (2020) Impact of reactive surfaces on the abiotic reaction between nitrite and ferrous iron and associated nitrogen and oxygen isotope dynamics. Biogeosciences 17: 4355-4374.
  • Donhauser J, Niklaus PA, Rousk J, Larose C, Frey B (2020) Temperatures beyond the community optimum promote the dominance of heat-adapted, fast growing and stress resistant bacteria in alpine soils. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 148:107873 DOI:10.1016/j.soilbio.2020.107873
  • van der Plas F, ..., Niklaus PA, ..., Wirth C (2020)  Plant traits alone are poor predictors of ecosystem properties and long-term ecosystem functioning. Nature Ecology & Evolution. DOI:10.1038/s41559-020-01316-9,
  • Chen Y, Huang Y, Niklaus PA, Castro Izaguirre N, Clark AT, Bruelheide H, Ma KP, Schmid B (2020). Directed species loss reduces community productivity in a subtropical forest-biodiversity experiment. Nature Ecology & Evolution. DOI: 10.1038/s41559-020-1127-4
  • Oehri J., Schmid B., Schaepman-Strub G., Niklaus PA. (2020). Terrestrial land-cover type richness is positively linked to landscape-level functioning. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-14002-7
  • Forrester DI. Rodenfels P, Haase J, Hardtle W, Leppert KN, Niklaus PA, von Oheimb G, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Bauhus J (2019) Tree-species interactions increase light absorption and growth in Chinese subtropical mixed-species plantations. Oecologia 191: 421-432 DOI:10.1007/s00442-019-04495-w
  • Ristok C., Leppert KN., Scherer-Lorenzen M., Niklaus PA., Brühlheide H. (2019). Soil macrofauna and leaf functional traits drive the decomposition of secondary metabolites in leaf litter. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 135: 429-437. DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2019.06.007
  • Steidinger BS., ... , Niklaus PA., ... Peay KG. (2019). Climatic controls of decomposition drive the global biogeography of forest-tree symbioses. Nature 569, 404-408. DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1128-0
  • Gonzalez-Dominguez B., Niklaus PA., Studer MS., Hagedorn F., Wacker L., Haghipour N., Zimmermann S., Walthert L., McIntyre C., Abiven S. (2019). Temperature and moisture are minor drivers of regional-scale soil organic carbon dynamics. Scientific Reports, 9:6422. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-42629-5
  • Hovenden MJ., Leuzinger S., Newton PCD., Fletcher A., Fatichi S., Lüscher A., Reich PB., Andresen LC., Beier C., Blumenthan DM., Chiariello NR., Dukes JS., Kellner J., Hofmockel K., Niklaus PA., Song J., Wan S., Classen AT., Langley JA. (2019). Globally consistent influences of seasonal precipitation limit grassland biomass response to CO2. Nature Plants. DOI: 10.1038/s41477-018-0356-x
  • Bruelheide H., Chen YX., Huang YY., Ma KP., Niklaus PA., Schmid B. (2019). Response to Comment on "Impacts of species richness on productivity in a large-scale subtropical forest experiment". Science 363, eaav9863. DOI: 10.1126/science.aav9863

Weiterführende Informationen

Pascal A. Niklaus

Pascal A. Niklaus

Senior Lecturer,
Adjunct Professor

Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
University of Zurich
Winterthurerstrasse 190
8057 Zurich

Office: Y13-G-30
Phone: +41 44 635 3413

PLoS Biology genetic variation for cooperation

New publication

Wuest S, Pires N, Luo S, Vasseur F, Messier J, Grossniklaus U, Niklaus PA (2022)
Increasing plant group productivity through latent genetic variation for cooperation.
PLoS Biology 20(11): e3001842, DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.3001842

The article was featured in a primer in PLoS Biology, and also in nature Research Highlight and New Scientist.