Competitive Interactions

Experimental sandbed

A major part of our research work is dedicated to the causal analysis of competition, certainly one of the most important interactions among plants.

We are perfoming projects on competitive interactions in dry acidic grasslands. The objectiv is to understand stability and transition of sucessional stages.
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Alien Plants

Prunus serotina (Traubenkirsche)

A special case of competition is the introduction of alien plants into indigenous vegetation.

Traits and strategies of various successful alien plants are presently investigated in our group. This research (including ecophysiology as well as population ecology) not only helps to understand the necessary ingredients for successful colonization of an already occupied area but provides also valuable knowledge for an effective control of alien plant species.
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Ecological Modelling

Hexagonal grid for simulation of disturbance effects in open acidic grasslands

In order to integrate our results, but also as an experimental tool, we presently develop spatially explicit models.

These models simulate the formation of vegetation patterns and their dynamics based on our experimental data. This work is still in its beginnings and is done in cooperation with mathematicians, informatics people and colleagues from the Environmental Research Center (UFZ) Leipzig.

Together with colleagues from Utah State University and the University of Bayreuth we developed and parameterized canopy photosynthesis models, which calculate photosynthesis and water relations of target plants as a function of the surrounding vegetation. The main issue here is the modelling of the light environment within the canopy and the assessment of how physiological functions of plants are dependent on the amount and the orientation of structural elements of the canopy. Recently a photoinhibition model was added. Besides other applications, these models are used in a number of studies dealing with light competition.
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Projects in the Mediterranean

Research area at the Serra da Arrabida, SW-Portugal

The presence or absence of a plant species (i.e. its competitiveness) in a certain habitat is frequently a function of particular stress adaptations.

This is the background of a recent research project on plants of the Mediterranean. Here we compared differential adaptations of sclerophyllous vs malacophyllous species. A subroutine for our canopy model was developed, which allows to quantitatively assess the effect of photoinhibition on short and long term carbon gain of these species.
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Stained root of Plantago lanceolata  with blue mycorrhizal structures (arb=arbuscules, ves=vesicles, int=intraradical hyphae, ext=extraradical hyphae)

About 80% of all terrestrial plants live in symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), making the association a very important aspect for a quantity of ecological processes.

We currently investigate belowground carbon investment strategies of plants (AMF vs. roots) and their relation to plant nutrition, evaluate the influence of common mycelial networks (CMN) on competition and facilitation processes and quantify belowground C-allocation and the speed of link between soil C-input and respiratory processes. A new aim in a starting PhD-project will be the investigation of the mutualism vs. parasitism potential of AMF and its role in interspecific competition.

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Exhibitions & Science Communication

Yes EI can, exhibition in the "Bauernhausmuseum Bielefeld" 2011

How to transfer the ever-growing scientific knowledge to the public? Boring lectures? New thrilling TV-programs? May be, but ...

We are developing new methods (for workshops, exhibitions, campaigns, ... ) that are scientifically sound to get in closer contact with the people, that are interested in understanding science and nature phenomena

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