BEF China

BEF China

The Biodiversity-Ecosystem Functioning (BEF-China, DFG Science TV) research unit of the German Science Foundation (FOR 891) is situated in the biodiversity hotspot in the subtropical forest in China. It features forests plots with different levels of tree diversity in a large scale experiment as well as in comparative study sites in near natural forests (Bruelheide et al., 2011). The experiment is spread across two different sites on each more than 25ha. It was planted in 2009 to 2010.
Currently, the BEF research unit consists of 13 research groups studying the effect of biodiversity on among others primary productivity, competition, functional traits, genetic variation, nutrient cycling, erosion control, soil micro-organisms, herbivory, and invasion resistance. In Leipzig we host two of these research groups, the central project "Data management" and the subproject "Coarse woody detritus decomposition".

BEF China Data Portal

With scientific research becoming more data intensive and collaborative, there is an increased interest in data reuse and meta analysis. The web application "BEFdata" aims at making it easier for cooperating scientists to compile coherent datasets, thus increasing their ability to answer complex questions and perform meta analysis.

BEFdata allows cooperative research projects to assemble consistent datasets using a formatted MS Excel 2003 workbook. BEF-data is an open source, model-view-controller Ruby on Rails application using a PostgreSQL database. Our generic data base schema is inspired by the Ecological Metadata Language and allows us to be very flexible in the data we store. Flexibility is granted by saving all primary research data into one single table, so that no domain specific knowledge is hard coded into our data base schema. We use a bottom up approach to adhere to evolving naming conventions by validating data against lists of unique categories that grow with the uploaded data. BEFdata provides a save environment during the time of ongoing analysis because data use has to be explicitly allowed and is protocoled.

The dataportal BEFdata is also used as an example for the development of instruments to link statistical analysistools (R) with the dataportal (cf.: GFBio). The option to download whole data packages from the dataportal directly to the R environment facilitates their analysis. The concomitant possiblity to upload R scripts or figures enables the traceability of data and their analyses. This represents an important step towards replicability and transparency of scientifically derived findings. In particular for synthesis analyses and meta-analyses where data tracing is complicated the described tools are of high importance. We aim to perform a model synthesis analysis of a part of the BEF China data with regard to these scientific standards. Furthermore, the central project "data management" collects and harmonises the heterogeneous data of the BEF China at the BEFdata dataportal and supports the scientific personel with respect to datamanagement related questions. The central project additionally offers statistical advice in data analysis and performs meta analysis. Responsible post doc is David Eichenberg.

Coarse woody debris decomposition

Coarse woody debris (CWD) is an important component of forest ecosystems throughout the world. It represents a significant carbon and nutrient pool, promotes biodiversity of wood- dwelling organisms, influences erosion and serves as a fuel for wildfire. Little is known about CWD dynamics in species-rich subtropical forests and hardly anything is known about the role of tree diversity. Biodiversity may affect decomposition rates and stocks of CWD by altering the decomposer microenvironment (via the link between diversity and stand structure), the substrate quality (via tree species’ traits) and the diversity and abundance of saproxylic insects. To explore the signature of tree diversity on CWD decomposition we propose a combination of field observations and experiments: (1) We follow the fate of labeled in situ CWD originating from a recent snowbreak. (2) Standardized CWD varying in accessibility for microbes and insects (litter bags, elevated position) will be deposited in the comparative study plots, in the main experiment and in the NILEx experiment, to disentangle the roles of tree diversity, stand structure, and abiotic factors. (3) The relationship between CWD decomposition and wood traits is investigated using material from 20 tree species. With this project we expect to uncover a novel pathway of how diversity affects ecosystem functioning in forests. This work is performed by Katherina Pietsch

last modified: 03.02.2016