German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)

Research fields

We study the relationships between biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and global change factors in many experiments around the world. You can find more detailed information about the different experiments by clicking the + symbol. Please contact the contact persons if you need any further information.

Biodiversity Effects in Ecosystem Functioning

The Jena Experiment

In the framework of the Jena Experiment we study the belowground consequences of plant diversity loss as well as soil feedback mechanisms. During his PhD Nico Eisenhauer investigated the role of ecosystem engineers (earthworms) in a grassland plant diversity gradient. Afterwards, he explored the impacts of soil animals (earthworms, springtails and nematodes) on the diversity-ecosystem functioning relationship and the linkage between above- and belowground diversity. Moreover, he studied the impacts of plant diversity change on soil microbial functioning and the effects of belowground interactions on the aboveground system. Since 2010 Nico Eisenhauer is PI in the Jena Experiment (Subproject Plant - soil fauna interactions; with Stefan Scheu). Tanja Strecker and Katja Steinauer are current PhD students in the Jena Experiment.

Contact: Nico Eisenhauer

MyDiv in TreeDivNet

TreeDivNet is an international platform for research on the relation between tree species diversity and ecosystem functioning. The network groups several research projects in different parts of the world and forms the largest project on ecosystem research worldwide. In total, over 775 000 trees were planted in the 17 research projects on a total surface of more than 800 ha. We use the TreeDivNet platform to measure soil microbial respiration in established tree diversity experiment.

Contact: Simone Cesarz


MyDiv is a recently established tree diversity experiment in the form of an open experimental platform. It is located at the UFZ field research station in Bad Lauchstädt. MyDiv investigates the role of mycorrhiza and its different types in tree diversity-ecosystem functioning relationships and in belowground carbon flow. We expect tree species communities of different mycorrhizal types to act complementarily compared to communities of only one type and that this effect is even stronger in more diverse tree communities. Further, tree communities with diverse mycorrhizal associations may foster more diverse soil animal communities. On 80 plots, we planted tree species in monocultures, 2-species, and 4-species mixtures. At each of the tree diversity levels, we established communities with only ectomycorrhiza, only arbuscular mycorrhiza or mixtures of both mycorrhizal types.

More details:

Contact: Olga Ferlian



The iDiv Ecotron is a joint research platform of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ. The indoor research facility houses 24 identical experimental units, the so-called EcoUnits, each of which can contain one to four independent ecosystems, separated above- or belowground, or both. The faunal species composition within these ecosystems can be manipulated with respect to the number of species within a trophic level (horizontal diversity) as well as with respect to the number of trophic levels themselves (vertical diversity). The main objective of the iDiv Ecotron is to manipulate multitrophic diversity in above-belowground food webs and study the consequences for many ecosystem functions. By providing the unique opportunity to fully control environmental conditions like temperature, nutrient supply, and precipitation of each single ecosystem within the EcoUnits while measuring ecological processes with non-invasive methods, the iDiv Ecotron provides the link between laboratory and field studies as it combines the advantages of both

Contact: Anja Schmidt


Global Change Effects on Complex Communities and Ecosystem Functioning


The project EcoWorm investigates "Ecosystem responses to exotic earthworm invasion in Northern American forests".

Earth is experiencing substantial biodiversity losses at the global scale, while both species gains and losses are occurring locally and regionally. Nonrandom changes in species distributions could profoundly influence ecosystem functions and services. However, few experimental tests have examined the influences of invasive ecosystem engineers, which can have disproportionally strong impacts on native ecosystems. Invasive earthworms are a prime example of ecosystem engineers that influence many ecosystems around the world. In particular, European earthworms invading northern North American forests may cause simultaneous species gains and losses with significant consequences for essential ecosystem processes like nutrient cycling and crucial services like carbon sequestration. Using a synthetic combination of field observations, field experiments, lab experiments, and meta-analyses, the work in the framework of the EcoWorm project will be the first systematic examination of earthworm effects on relationships between plant communities, soil food webs, and ecosystem processes. Further, effects of a changing climate on the spread and consequences of earthworm invasion will be investigated. Meta-analyses will be used to test if earthworms cause invasion waves, invasion meltdowns, habitat homogenization, and ecosystem state shifts. Global data will be synthesized to test if the relative magnitude of effects differ from place to place depending on the functional dissimilarity between native soil fauna and exotic earthworms. Moving from local to global scale, the present proposal examines the influence of earthworm invasions on biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships from an aboveground–belowground perspective.


Contact: Nico Eisenhauer, Olga Ferlian

Global Change Experimental Facility (GCEF)

The GCEF is a large experimental platform located at the field research station of the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research in Bad Lauchstädt, Germany. The consequences of climate change are explored under five land use types, which include conventional farming, organic farming, intensively used grassland (frequently mown), extensively used grassland (moderately mown) and extensively used grassland (grazed by sheep). During the summer months, precipitation is reduced by approx. 15%; during spring and autumn precipitation is increased by approx. 5%. We are investigating the effects on belowground processes and the functional composition of soil food webs by sampling soil organisms and studying the phenology of soil microbial and animal activity. Julia Siebert is a current PhD student in the GCEF.

Contact: Nico Eisenhauer

BadNut in Nutrient Network

The Nutrient Network (NutNet) is a grassroots research effort to address multiple questions within a coordinated research network comprised of more than 90 grassland sites worldwide. We established our experimental site “BadNut” at the field research station of the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research in Bad Lauchstädt, Germany in 2014/2015. Co-PI in Bad Lauchstaedt is Dr. Sylvia Haider (MLU Halle, ). Within NutNet, Nico Eisenhauer is leading a study on soil microbial and animal activity. Julia Siebert is a current PhD student in the Nutrient Network.

Contact: Nico Eisenhauer

Bad Drought in Drought-Net


The Drought-Network is a global research initiative to study the sensitivity of terrestrial ecosystems to extreme drought. Passive rainout shelters are used to constantly reduce a site-specific percentage of precipitation based on the 1st percentile of the long-term record. We established our experimental site “BadDrought” at the field research station of the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research in Bad Lauchstaedt, Germany in 2014/2015. Co-PI in Bad Lauchstaedt is Dr. Harald Auge (UFZ Halle, In addition to the drought treatment we also included a nutrient treatment (NPK) to study the interactive effects of both factors. Julia Siebert is a current PhD student in the Drought-Network.

Contact: Nico Eisenhauer

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