• Global Warming:

    the threat of a permafrost Carbon – climate feedback

  • We develop and improve

    stable isotopes techniques for ecological applications

  • Plants, fungi and bacteria interact

    at the root-soil interface

  • Probing the future:

    Climate Change experiments

  • Soil is fundamental to human life

  • Tropical rainforests

    hold the key to global net primary productivity

TER News

Latest publications

A systemic overreaction to years versus decades of warming in a subarctic grassland ecosystem

Temperature governs most biotic processes, yet we know little about how warming affects whole ecosystems. Here we examined the responses of 128 components of a subarctic grassland to either 5–8 or >50 years of soil warming. Warming of >50 years drove the ecosystem to a new steady state possessing a distinct biotic composition and reduced species richness, biomass and soil organic matter. However, the warmed state was preceded by an overreaction to warming, which was related to organism physiology and was evident after 5–8 years. Ignoring this overreaction yielded errors of >100% for 83 variables when predicting their responses to a realistic warming scenario of 1 °C over 50 years, although some, including soil carbon content, remained stable after 5–8 years. This study challenges long-term ecosystem predictions made from short-term observations, and provides a framework for characterization of ecosystem responses to sustained climate change.

Walker TWN, Janssens IA, Weedon JT, Sigurdsson BD, Richter A, Peñuelas J, Leblans NI Bahn M, Bartrons M, De Jonge C, Fuchslueger L, Gargallo-Garriga A, Gunnarsdóttir GE, Marañon-Jimenez S, Oddsdóttir ES, Ostonen I, Poeplau C, Prommer J, Radujković D, Sardans J, Sigurðsson P, Soong JL, Vicca S, Wallander H, Ilieva-Makulec K, Verbruggen E
2020 - Nature Ecology & Evolution, 4: 101-108

The Forest Observation System, building a global reference dataset for remote sensing of forest biomass

Forest biomass is an essential indicator for monitoring the Earth's ecosystems and climate. It is a critical input to greenhouse gas accounting, estimation of carbon losses and forest degradation, assessment of renewable energy potential, and for developing climate change mitigation policies such as REDD+, among others. Wall-to-wall mapping of aboveground biomass (AGB) is now possible with satellite remote sensing (RS). However, RS methods require extant, up-to-date, reliable, representative and comparable in situ data for calibration and validation. Here, we present the Forest Observation System (FOS) initiative, an international cooperation to establish and maintain a global in situ forest biomass database. AGB and canopy height estimates with their associated uncertainties are derived at a 0.25 ha scale from field measurements made in permanent research plots across the world's forests. All plot estimates are geolocated and have a size that allows for direct comparison with many RS measurements. The FOS offers the potential to improve the accuracy of RS-based biomass products while developing new synergies between the RS and ground-based ecosystem research communities.

Schepaschenko D, et al, Wanek W, Zo-Bi IC
2019 - Scientific Data, 6: Article 198

Carbon isotopic tracing of sugars throughout whole-trees exposed to climate warming

Trees allocate C from sources to sinks by way of a series of processes involving carbohydrate transport and utilization. Yet these dynamics are not well characterized in trees, and it is unclear how these dynamics will respond to a warmer world. Here, we conducted a warming and pulse‐chase experiment on Eucalyptus parramattensis growing in a whole‐tree chamber system to test whether warming impacts carbon allocation by increasing the speed of carbohydrate dynamics. We pulse‐labelled large (6‐m tall) trees with 13C‐CO2 to follow recently fixed C through different organs by using compound‐specific isotope analysis of sugars. We then compared concentrations and mean residence times of individual sugars between ambient and warmed (+3°C) treatments. Trees dynamically allocated 13C‐labelled sugars throughout the aboveground‐belowground continuum. We did not, however, find a significant treatment effect on C dynamics, as sugar concentrations and mean residence times were not altered by warming. From the canopy to the root system, 13C enrichment of sugars decreased, and mean residence times increased, reflecting dilution and mixing of recent photoassimilates with older reserves along the transport pathway. Our results suggest that a locally endemic eucalypt was seemingly able to adjust its physiology to warming representative of future temperature predictions for Australia.

Furze M., Drake JE, Wiesenbauer J, Richter A, Pendall E
2019 - Plant Cell and Environment, 42: 3253-3263

Lecture series

Microbial ecology of nitrogen cycling in paddy soils

Yong-Guan Zhu
Research Centre for Eco-Environmental Sciences & Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences
09:00 h
Lecture Hall HS 5, UZA2 (Geocentre), Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna

How to meet the Paris 2°C target: Which are the main constraints that will need to be overcome?

Ivan Janssens
Centre of Excellence of Global Change Ecology, University of Antwerp, Belgium
12:00 h
Lecture Hall HS2 (UZA 1), Althanstraße 14, 1090 Vienna

Soil C dynamics –when are microbial communities in control?

Naoise Nunan
Institute of Ecology and Environmental Sciences IEES Paris, France
12:00 h
Lecture Hall HS2 (UZA 1), Althanstraße 14, 1090 Vienna