German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)


The Biodiversity Ecosystem Functioning Experiment BEF-China is the first BEF forest experiment in the highly species-rich subtropics. Established on a total area of 50 ha with more than 400 000 trees and shrubs planted it is currently the largest forest experimental platform worldwide. The main goal is determining the role of tree and shrub species diversity for production, element cycling and species conservation in Chinese subtropical forest ecosystems. Novel ecosystem functioning variables highly relevant for environmental issues in China are also investigated, e.g., prevention of soil erosion, carbon sequestration and resistance to invasion. Complemented is the experimental platform by an observational study site with 27 comparative study plots established in the Gutianshan National Nature Reserve.

Research focus

  • Primary productivity, tree growth, nutrient cycling and soil erosion as a function of species richness and composition
  • Functional diversity based on anatomical and morphological species traits
  • Effect of tree species diversity on foliar fungal pathogens, soil microbial and mycorrhizal fungal biomass and diversity
  • Effect of tree species diversity on herbivory and plant insect interactions
  • Genetics of trees and shrubs and their relevance for fitness and the biodiversity- ecosystem functioning relationship
  • Interplay of herbaceous and woody species richness

Key data

  • Location: Xingangshan, Jiangxi Province, China
  • Platform type: Experimental platform comprising 566 plots of 400 trees each with a realized diversity gradient from monocultures to 24-species mixtures and a total species pool of 42 tree species
  • Research groups involved: 13 collaborative subprojects associated with more than 15 German, Swiss, and Chinese universities and institutes, partner of TreeDivNet - the global network of tree diversity experiments, several iDiv members involved.


Prof. Helge Bruelheide(Speaker of the DFG Research Group 891 BEF- China)

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