In the framework of several projects within the working group of Prof. Vicky Temperton that are exploring the connection between plant diversity, soil carbon and restoration measures in grasslands, the following Bachelor/Master project is  available starting very SOON in September 2023!

Can we restore degraded grasslands to increase plant diversity and store more carbon in the soil? What role does rewetting of grassland sites play for the outcome? – Collecting the key baseline data for answering these questions.

Project: Assessment of total soil carbon (including organic C) and total soil nitrogen in 2-3 different sites where biodiversity and fertilizer experiments are going to be set up within the Grünlandvielfalt (BfN) project (run by Lunja Ernst and Ute Peteresen-Schlapkohl from the Aktion Fischotterschutz, Hankensbüttel).

This project includes the following approach:  You will sample 2-3 different designated grassland sites near Gifhorn, that Lunja Ernst and Ute Petersen are planning as key model biodiversity sites as part of the BfN-funded Grünlandvielfalt project (see we are working closely with the local farmers who lease the land and harvest hay from the grasslands (that are degraded and not very species-rich due to old-fashioned restoration treatments carried out in the 1990s, but also a regaulr addition of around 50kg of N fertilizer over many years). In this project we will sample 2-3 of the sites planned for the biodiversity experimental treatments (see Figure below) to be set up this Sept/October. The main treatments that will happen in the near future are either sowing a high or a medium diversity seed mixture (after disturbing the soil to allow species to establish better) and adding no fertilizer, 25 or 50 kg N per hectare per year. This will allow us over time to assess whether we can increase the plant diversity at the site, and whether removing fertilizer and or adding high diversity seed mixtures works best in terms of restoration outcomes.

Your task is to assess the time zero soil conditions as well as do preliminary vegetation assessments of the sites (as far as is possible in September). This will involve sampling 2-3 sites over one to two days (with help from others in the Temperton lab) and then you will be preparing the soil samples for chemical analysis. This will provide essential information on how many nutrients are in the soils at this key starting point of the larger Grünlandvielfalt project.

Prerequisite to work on in this project: Time to sample in early Septmeber 2023! Interest in ecology and/or ecological restoration and the connection between plant diversity and soil carbon, including how we can try to regain both biodiversity and store more carbon in soils ; Willingness to do field and lab work and to take soil samples for analyzing soil chemistry for total carbon and nitrogen. Sampling will only take 1-2 days in the field in early September. Sample preparation and chemical analysis will take around 1.5 months.

Projekt Grünlandvielfalt ©Leuphana
View of a grassland site where both biodiversity and other (priority effect) treatments are planned to increase the diversity of the degraded grasslands, in collaboration with local farmers, as part of the Grünlandvielfalt project, a collaboration between the Aktion Fischotterschutz and the Temperton lab at Leuphana. This project relates to the biodiversity treatments on the top left.

Timeframe for this project: This project is expected to start in Sept 2023

Car driving licence: Not necessary

Interested? Contact: Vicky Temperton (