The German Research Foundation (DFG) has extended funding for the Research Training Group “Enrichment of European beech forests with conifers: impacts of functional traits on ecosystem functioning” at the University of Göttingen. The Research Training Group (RTG) will receive around four million euros over the next four and a half years. The second funding period begins on 1 April 2022.
In the Research Training Group, scientists from forest sciences, biology, and statistics focus on the question of how European beech forests react to the enrichment of conifers such as spruce (Picea abies, a native conifer that is often cultivated outside its natural range) or Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii, a non-native conifer originating from the Pacific Northwest of North America). Forty experimental plots in Lower Saxony enable researchers to investigate the following: changes in the species community in mixed forests of beech and conifers; what this means for ecosystem processes such as biomass production or the water and nutrient cycle; the ecosystem services that can be expected from such forests in contrast to a patch of woodland composed of one species; and whether they are better able to withstand the consequences of climate change.
In the first round, 23 PhD students were involved in the RTG, some of whom have already completed their doctorates. "In the first funding period, we made many interesting observations, and some of these were complete surprises to us," says Professor Christian Ammer from the Faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology and spokesperson of the RTG. "For example, it turns out that it’s the site – meaning the regional climate and soil – that is, for some processes, much more significant than the identity of the tree species. In the second funding phase, we want to get to the bottom of these somewhat unexpected findings to try to figure out the causes and mechanisms."
Further information about the RTG can be found at https://www.uni-goettingen.de/en/574316.html
Professor Christian Ammer
University of Göttingen
Faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology
Büsgenweg 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
Tel: +49 (0)551 39-33671