Tree and shrub diversity in Chinese forest ecosystems

Title of the project

The role of tree and shrub diversity for production, erosion control, element cycling, and species conservation in Chinese subtropical forest ecosystems

Subproject at University of Lüneburg

TP 02: Plant growth and demography

Project duration

2008 – 2011

2011 - 2014

2014 - 2016

Short description

The newly established Chinese-European DFG Research Unit “BEF China” (FOR 891) seeks to set up a new forest Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning (BEF) experiment in subtropical forests in China.

The objective of this experiment is to analyse the influence of tree and shrub species diversity on ecosystem functioning and services in one of the most prominent diversity hotspots in the northern hemisphere. Using a species pool of about 100 native tree and shrub species we will plant experimental forest stands, varying in both tree and shrub species richness, on a total area of about 100 ha. A range of biodiversity and ecosystem variables will be measured to assess community dynamics and its relation to primary productivity, carbon and nitrogen storage, nutrient cycling, and prevention of soil erosion. In addition, the experimental approach will be combined with comparative studies in existing forests.

The project will be carried out in a close collaboration between Chinese and European researchers with complementary interests and skills. The joint research will help to resolve one of the most central issues in ecology and global change biology:
how plant diversity may be used to establish forests that stabilize the environment and maintain vital ecosystem services in the face of multiple stresses.

On the European side, the project involves scientists from Germany and Switzerland from a variety of disciplines such as ecology, botany, zoology, mycology, forestry, soil science, statistics and informatics.


  • Approximately 3.2 Mio. € total project budget.
  • 150.000 € for  Leuphana University of Lüneburg


  • Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, Institut für Ökologie und Umweltchemie
  • University of Halle
  • University of Freiburg
  • University of Zürich
  • University of Tübingen
  • University of Jena
  • MPI Jena
  • UFZ Leipzig-Jena
  • University of Bern

Financed by

  • NSFC-DFG Research unit

Involved researchers at the institute