Integrated European
Long-Term Ecosystem, critical zone and
socio-ecological Research

New publication with the participation of eLTER site Zöbelboden: Disentangling climate from soil nutrient effects on plant biomass production using a multispecies phytometer

2 November 2021

Plant biomass production is co-dependent on climatic and edaphic factors, which in turn are under increasingly anthropogenic pressure. Disentangling effects of climate and soil on plant biomass production is challenging, especially along large climatic gradients. To address this, a multispecies phytometer was developed (i.e., standardized plant community in local site soils and a standardized substrate) and installed in 18 sites across a pan-European aridity gradient.

The study revealed that aridity and phosphorous availability were the strongest determinants of biomass production, with each species experiencing its own unique set of co-limitations. Moreover, this study demonstrates that the phytometer approach has the potential for disentangling effects of climate and soil on plant biomass production and offers a flexible protocol for investigating additional drivers such as the link between soil microorganisms and plant productivity. Distributed experiment designs are of increasing importance for unraveling the effects of multiple drivers on ecosystems in a changing world.

Authors: Peter A. Wilfahrt, Andreas H. Schweiger, Nelson Abrantes, Mohammed A. S. Arfin-Khan, Michael Bahn, Bernd J. Berauer, Michael Bierbaumer, Ika Djukic, Marleen van Dusseldorp, Pia Eibes, Marc Estiarte, Andreas von Hessberg, Petr Holub, Johannes Ingrisch, Inger Kappel Schmidt, Lazar Kesic, Karel Klem, György Kröel-Dulay, Klaus S. Larsen, Krista Lõhmus, Pille Mänd, Ildikó Orbán, Sasa Orlovic, Josep Peñuelas, David Reinthaler, Dajana Radujković, Max Schuchardt, Julienne M.-I. Schweiger, Srdjan Stojnic, Albert Tietema, Otmar Urban, Sara Vicca, Anke Jentsch

Access the article here.

The phytometer workflow: from right to left, phytometers are planted in a standardized pattern with equal density of three globally distributed, perennial herbaceous species