Prof Christian Wirth

Managing Director

Committees and memberships


  • Ecological Society of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein (GfÖ)
  • Steering committee of the TRY initiative (DIVERSITAS, IGBP)
  • German Botanical Society (DBG e.V.)
  • DIVERSITAS Germany

Editorial boards


  • Annals of Forest Research
  • Oecologia

Academic positions


  • since 2009 Professor at Leipzig University
  • Head of department “Special Botany and Functional Biodiversity” and director of the Botanical Garden, Institute of Biology
  • 2005–2009 Leader of junior research group “Organismic Biogeochemistry” at MPI-BGC
  • 2000–2003 Postdoc at MPI-BGC, BMBF: Model analysis of carbon dynamics in Thuringian Forests
  • 2003–2005 Princeton University, USA, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, USA and Sukachev Institut of Forest, Krasnoyarsk, Russia



  • 1996 Diploma in Biology, University Bayreuth (with highest honours)
  • 2000 PhD in Biology, University of Bayreuth under supervision of Prof. E.-D. Schulze (Plant Ecology; summa cum laude)

Research focus


Biodiversity and ecosystem functions, functional diversity of trees and forests, linking population ecology and biogeochemistry, disturbance ecology, dynamic of decay processes, research of natural forest, allometry and allocation, "diversification" of earth sytem models

iDiv publications


Ledo, A., Paul, K. I., Burslem, D., Ewel, J. J., Barton, C., Battaglia, M., Brooksbank, K., Carter, J., Eid, T. H., England, J. R., Fitzgerald, A., Jonson, J., Mencuccini, M., Montagu, K. D., Montero, G., Mugasha, W. A., Pinkard, E., Roxburgh, S., Ryan, C. M., Ruiz-Peinado, R., Sochacki, S., Specht, A., Wildy, D., Wirth, C., Zerihun, A., Chave, J.

Tree size and climatic water deficit control root to shoot ratio in individual trees globally New Phytologist 217(1), 8-11

Magnabosco Marra, D., Trumbore, S. E., Higuchi, N., Ribeiro, G. H. P. M., Negrón-Juárez, R. I., Holzwarth, F., Rifai, S. W., dos Santos, J., Lima, A. J. N., Kinupp, V. F., Chambers, J. Q., Wirth, C.

Windthrows control biomass patterns and functional composition of Amazon forests Global Change Biology (in press),

Rüger, N., Comita, L. S., Condit, R., Purves, D., Rosenbaum, B., Visser, M. D., Joseph, W. S., Wirth, C.

Beyond the fast–slow continuum: demographic dimensions structuring a tropical tree community Ecology Letters 21(7), 1075-84

Schuldt, A., Assmann, T., Brezzi, M., Buscot, F., Eichenberg, D., Gutknecht, J., Härdtle, W., He, J.-S., Klein, A.-M., Kühn, P., Liu, X., Ma, K., Niklaus, P. A., Pietsch, K. A., Purahong, W., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Schmid, B., Scholten, T., Staab, M., Tang, Z., Trogisch, S., von Oheimb, G., Wirth, C., Wubet, T., Zhu, C.-D., Bruelheide, H.

Biodiversity across trophic levels drives multifunctionality in highly diverse forests Nature Communications 9, 2989

van der Plas, F., Ratcliffe, S., Ruiz-Benito, P., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Verheyen, K., Wirth, C., Zavala, M. A., Ampoorter, E., Baeten, L., Barbaro, L., Bastias, C. C., Bauhus, J., Benavides, R., Benneter, A., Bonal, D., Bouriaud, O., Bruelheide, H., Bussotti, F., Carnol, M., Castagneyrol, B., Charbonnier, Y., Cornelissen, J. H. C., Dahlgren, J., Checko, E., Coppi, A., Dawud, S. M., Deconchat, M., De Smedt, P., De Wandeler, H., Domisch, T., Finér, L., Fotelli, M., Gessler, A., Granier, A., Grossiord, C., Guyot, V., Haase, J., Hättenschwiler, S., Jactel, H., Jaroszewicz, B., Joly, F.-X., Jucker, T., Kambach, S., Kaendler, G., Kattge, J., Koricheva, J., Kunstler, G., Lehtonen, A., Liebergesell, M., et al.

Continental mapping of forest ecosystem functions reveals a high but unrealised potential for forest multifunctionality Ecology Letters 21(1), 31-42

Chen, H., Oram, N. J., Barry, K. E., Mommer, L., van Ruijven, J., de Kroon, H., Ebeling, A., Eisenhauer, N., Fischer, C., Gleixner, G., Gessler, A., González Macé, O., Hacker, N., Hildebrandt, A., Lange, M., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Scheu, S., Oelmann, Y., Wagg, C., Wilcke, W., Wirth, C., Weigelt, A.

Root chemistry and soil fauna, but not soil abiotic conditions explain the effects of plant diversity on root decomposition Oecologia 185(3), 499-511

Ferlian, O., Wirth, C., Eisenhauer, N.

Leaf and root C-to-N ratios are poor predictors of soil microbial biomass C and respiration across 32 tree species Pedobiologia 65, 1623

Madrigal-González, J., Ruiz-Benito, P., Ratcliffe, S., Rigling, A., Wirth, C., Zimmermann, N. E., Zweifel, R., Zavala, M. A.

Competition Drives Oak Species Distribution and Functioning in Europe: Implications Under Global Change In: E. Gil-Pelegrín, J. J. Peguero-Pina, D. Sancho-Knapik (Eds.) Oaks Physiological Ecology. Exploring the Functional Diversity of Genus Quercus L. Springer International Publishing, Cham, p. 513-38

Ohse, B., Seele, C., Holzwarth, F., Wirth, C.

Different facets of tree sapling diversity influence browsing intensity by deer dependent on spatial scale Ecology and Evolution 7(17), 6779-89

Purahong, W., Pietsch, K. A., Lentendu, G., Schöps, R., Bruelheide, H., Wirth, C., Buscot, F., Wubet, T.

Characterization of Unexplored Deadwood Mycobiome in Highly Diverse Subtropical Forests Using Culture-independent Molecular Technique Frontiers in Microbiology 8(574),

Ratcliffe, S., Wirth, C., Jucker, T., van der Plas, F., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Verheyen, K., Allan, E., Benavides, R., Bruelheide, H., Ohse, B., Paquette, A., Ampoorter, E., Bastias, C. C., Bauhus, J., Bonal, D., Bouriaud, O., Bussotti, F., Carnol, M., Castagneyrol, B., Chećko, E., Dawud, S. M., Wandeler, H. D., Domisch, T., Finér, L., Fischer, M., Fotelli, M., Gessler, A., Granier, A., Grossiord, C., Guyot, V., Haase, J., Hättenschwiler, S., Jactel, H., Jaroszewicz, B., Joly, F.-X., Kambach, S., Kolb, S., Koricheva, J., Liebersgesell, M., Milligan, H., Müller, S., Muys, B., Nguyen, D., Nock, C., Pollastrini, M., Purschke, O., et al.

Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning relations in European forests depend on environmental context Ecology Letters 20(11), 1414-26

Ruiz-Benito, P., Ratcliffe, S., Jump, A. S., Gómez-Aparicio, L., Madrigal-González, J., Wirth, C., Kändler, G., Lehtonen, A., Dahlgren, J., Kattge, J., Zavala, M. A.

Functional diversity underlies demographic responses to environmental variation in European forests Global Ecology and Biogeography 26(2), 128-41

Ruiz-Benito, P., Ratcliffe, S., Zavala, M. A., Martinez-Vilalta, J., Vila-Cabrera, A., Lloret, F., Madrigal-Gonzalez, J., Wirth, C., Greenwood, S., Kandler, G., Lehtonen, A., Kattge, J., Dahlgren, J., Jump, A. S.

Climate- and successional-related changes in functional composition of European forests are strongly driven by tree mortality Global Change Biology 23(10), 4162-76

Scholten, T., Goebes, P., Kühn, P., Seitz, S., Assmann, T., Bauhus, J., Bruelheide, H., Buscot, F., Erfmeier, A., Fischer, M., Härdtle, W., He, J.-S., Ma, K., Niklaus, P. A., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Schmid, B., Shi, X., Song, Z., von Oheimb, G., Wirth, C., Wubet, T., Schmidt, K.

On the combined effect of soil fertility and topography on tree growth in subtropical forest ecosystems—a study from SE China Journal of Plant Ecology 10(1), 111-27

Schuldt, A., Bruelheide, H., Buscot, F., Assmann, T., Erfmeier, A., Klein, A.-M., Ma, K., Scholten, T., Staab, M., Wirth, C., Zhang, J., Wubet, T.

Belowground top-down and aboveground bottom-up effects structure multitrophic community relationships in a biodiverse forest Scientific Reports 7(1), 4222

Weisser, W. W., Roscher, C., Meyer, S., Ebeling, A., Luo, G., Allan, E., Beßler, H., Barnard, R., Buchmann, N., Buscot, F., Engels, C., Fischer, C., Fischer, M., Gessler, A., Gleixner, G., Halle, S., Hildebrandt, A., Hillebrand, H., de Kroon, H., Lange, M., Leimer, S., Le Roux, X., Milcu, A., Mommer, L., Niklaus, P., Oelmann, Y., Proulx, R., Roy, J., Scherber, C., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Scheu, S., Tscharntke, T., Wachendorf, M., Wagg, C., Weigelt, A., Wilcke, W., Wirth, C., Schulze, E.-D., Schmid, B., Eisenhauer, N.

Biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning in a 15-year grassland experiment: patterns, mechanisms, and open questions Basic and Applied Ecology 23, 1-73

Baber, K., Otto, P., Kahl, T., Gossner, M. M., Wirth, C., Gminder, A., Bässler, C.

Disentangling the effects of forest-stand type and dead-wood origin of the early successional stage on the diversity of wood-inhabiting fungi Forest Ecology and Management 377, 161-69

Chen, H., Mommer, L., van Ruijven, J., de Kroon, H., Fischer, C., Gessler, A., Hildebrandt, A., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Wirth, C., Weigelt, A.

Plant species richness negatively affects root decomposition in grasslands Journal of Ecology 105(1), 209-18

Díaz, S., Kattge, J., Cornelissen, J. H. C., Wright, I. J., Lavorel, S., Dray, S., Reu, B., Kleyer, M., Wirth, C., Colin Prentice, I., Garnier, E., Bönisch, G., Westoby, M., Poorter, H., Reich, P. B., Moles, A. T., Dickie, J., Gillison, A. N., Zanne, A. E., Chave, J., Joseph Wright, S., Sheremet’ev, S. N., Jactel, H., Baraloto, C., Cerabolini, B., Pierce, S., Shipley, B., Kirkup, D., Casanoves, F., Joswig, J. S., Günther, A., Falczuk, V., Rüger, N., Mahecha, M. D., Gorné, L. D.

The global spectrum of plant form and function Nature 529(7585), 167-71

Jucker, T., Caspersen, J., Chave, J., Antin, C., Barbier, N., Bongers, F., Dalponte, M., van Ewijk, K. Y., Forrester, D. I., Haeni, M., Higgins, S. I., Holdaway, R. J., Iida, Y., Lorimer, C., Marshall, P. L., Momo, S., Moncrieff, G. R., Ploton, P., Poorter, L., Rahman, K. A., Schlund, M., Sonké, B., Sterck, F. J., Trugman, A. T., Usoltsev, V. A., Vanderwel, M. C., Waldner, P., Wedeux, B. M. M., Wirth, C., et al.

Allometric equations for integrating remote sensing imagery into forest monitoring programmes Global Change Biology 23(1), 177-90

Kunstler, G., Falster, D., Coomes, D. A., Hui, F., Kooyman, R. M., Laughlin, D. C., Poorter, L., Vanderwel, M., Vieilledent, G., Wright, S. J., Aiba, M., Baraloto, C., Caspersen, J., Cornelissen, J. H. C., Gourlet-Fleury, S., Hanewinkel, M., Herault, B., Kattge, J., Kurokawa, H., Onoda, Y., Peñuelas, J., Poorter, H., Uriarte, M., Richardson, S., Ruiz-Benito, P., Sun, I. F., Ståhl, G., Swenson, N. G., Thompson, J., Westerlund, B., Wirth, C., et al.

Plant functional traits have globally consistent effects on competition Nature 529(7585), 204-07

Leimer, S., Oelmann, Y., Eisenhauer, N., Milcu, A., Roscher, C., Scheu, S., Weigelt, A., Wirth, C., Wilcke, W.

Mechanisms behind plant diversity effects on inorganic and organic N leaching from temperate grassland Biogeochemistry 131(3), 339-53

Liebergesell, M., Reu, B., Stahl, U., Freiberg, M., Welk, E., Kattge, J., Cornelissen, J. H. C., Penuelas, J., Wirth, C.

Functional Resilience against Climate-Driven Extinctions - Comparing the Functional Diversity of European and North American Tree Floras Plos One 11(2), e0148607

Madrigal-González, J., Ruiz-Benito, P., Ratcliffe, S., Calatayud, J., Kändler, G., Lehtonen, A., Dahlgren, J., Wirth, C., Zavala, M. A.

Complementarity effects on tree growth are contingent on tree size and climatic conditions across Europe Scientific Reports 6(32233),

Marra, D. M., Higuchi, N., Trumbore, S. E., Ribeiro, G. H. P. M., dos Santos, J., Carneiro, V. M. C., Lima, A. J. N., Chambers, J. Q., Negron-Juarez, R. I., Holzwarth, F., Reu, B., Wirth, C.

Predicting biomass of hyperdiverse and structurally complex central Amazonian forests - a virtual approach using extensive field data Biogeosciences 13(5), 1553-70

Musavi, T., Migliavacca, M., van de Weg, M. J., Kattge, J., Wohlfahrt, G., van Bodegom, P. M., Reichstein, M., Bahn, M., ..., Wirth, C., Mahecha, M. D.

Potential and limitations of inferring ecosystem photosynthetic capacity from leaf functional traits Ecology and Evolution 6(20), 7352-66

Ratcliffe, S., Liebergesell, M., Ruiz-Benito, P., Gonzalez, J. M., Castaneda, J. M. M., Kandler, G., Lehtonen, A., Dahlgren, J., Kattge, J., Penuelas, J., Zavala, M. A., Wirth, C.

Modes of functional biodiversity control on tree productivity across the European continent Global Ecology and Biogeography 25(3), 251-62

Richter, R., Reu, B., Wirth, C., Doktor, D., Vohland, M.

The use of airborne hyperspectral data for tree species classification in a species-rich Central European forest area International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 52, 464-74

Schroeder-Georgi, T., Wirth, C., Nadrowski, K., Meyer, S. T., Mommer, L., Weigelt, A.

From pots to plots: hierarchical trait-based prediction of plant performance in a mesic grassland Journal of Ecology 104(1), 206-18

Tautenhahn, S., Lichstein, J. W., Jung, M., Kattge, J., Bohlman, S. A., Heilmeier, H., Prokushkin, A., Kahl, A., Wirth, C.

Dispersal limitation drives successional pathways in Central Siberian forests under current and intensified fire regimes Global Change Biology 22(6), 2178-97

van der Plas, F., Manning, P., Allan, E., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Verheyen, K., Wirth, C., Zavala, M. A., Hector, A., Ampoorter, E., Baeten, L., Barbaro, L., Bauhus, J., Benavides, R., Benneter, A., Berthold, F., Bonal, D., Bouriaud, O., Bruelheide, H., et al.

Jack-of-all-trades effects drive biodiversity-ecosystem multifunctionality relationships in European forests Nature Communications 7, 11109

van der Plas, F., Manning, P., Soliveres, S., Allan, E., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Verheyen, K., Wirth, C., Zavala, M. A., Ampoorter, E., Baeten, L., Barbaro, L., Bauhus, J., Benavides, R., Benneter, A., Bonal, D., Bouriaud, O., Bruelheide, H., et al.

Biotic homogenization can decrease landscape-scale forest multifunctionality Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113(13), 3557-62

Bouriaud, O., Teodosiu, M., Kirdyanov, A. V., Wirth, C.

Influence of wood density in tree-ring based annual productivity assessments and its errors in Norway spruce Biogeosciences Discussion Paper 12(8), 5871-5905

Holzwarth, F., Rüger, N., Wirth, C.

Taking a closer look: disentangling effects of functional diversity on ecosystem functions with a trait-based model across hierarchy and time Royal Society Open Science 2, 140541

Kahl, T., Baber, K., Otto, P., Wirth, C., Bauhus, J.

Drivers of CO2 Emission Rates from Dead Wood Logs of 13 Tree Species in the Initial Decomposition Phase Forests 6(7), 2484-2504

Kröber, W., Li, Y., Haerdtle, W., Ma, K., Schmid, B., Schmidt, K., Scholten, T., Seidler, G., von Oheimb, G., Welk, E., Wirth, C., Bruelheide, H.

Early subtropical forest growth is driven by community mean trait values and functional diversity rather than the abiotic environment Ecology and Evolution 5(17), 3541-56

Leimer, S., Oelmann, Y., Wirth, C., Wilcke, W.

Time matters for plant diversity effects on nitrate leaching from temperate grassland Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 211, 155-63

Musavi, T., Mahecha, M. D., Migliavacca, M., Reichstein, M., van de Weg, M. J., van Bodegom, P. M., Bahn, M., Wirth, C., Reich, P. B., Schrodt, F., Kattge, J.

The imprint of plants on ecosystem functioning: A data-driven approach International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 43, 119-31

Ratcliffe, S., Holzwarth, F., Nadrowski, K., Levick, S., Wirth, C.

Tree neighbourhood matters - Tree species composition drives diversity-productivity patterns in a near-natural beech forest Forest Ecology and Management 335, 225-34

Schrodt, F., Kattge, J., Shan, H., Fazayeli, F., Joswig, J., Banerjee, A., Reichstein, M., Bönisch, G., Díaz, S., Dickie, J., Gillison, A., Karpatne, A., Lavorel, S., Leadley, P., Wirth, C. B., et al.

BHPMF – a hierarchical Bayesian approach to gap-filling and trait prediction for macroecology and functional biogeography Global Ecology and Biogeography 24(12), 1510-21

Schuldt, A., Wubet, T., Buscot, F., Staab, M., Assmann, T., Bohnke-Kammerlander, M., Both, S., Erfmeier, A., Klein, A.-M., Ma, K., Pietsch, K., Schultze, S., Wirth, C., Zhang, J., Zumstein, P., Bruelheide, H.

Multitrophic diversity in a biodiverse forest is highly nonlinear across spatial scales Nature Communications 6, 10169

Wilhelm, C., Wirth, C.

Physiodiversity – New tools allow physiologist to embrace biodiversity and reconstruct the evolution of ‘physiologies’? Journal of Plant Physiology 172, 1-3

Böhnke, M., Kröber, W., Welk, E., Wirth, C., Bruelheide, H., Kühn, I.

Maintenance of constant functional diversity during secondary succession of a subtropical forest in China Journal of Vegetation Science 25(3), 897-911

Bruelheide, H., Nadrowski, K., Assmann, T., Bauhus, J., Both, S., Buscot, F., Chen, X.-Y., Ding, B., Durka, W., Erfmeier, A., Gutknecht, J. L. M., Guo, D., Guo, L.-D., Härdtle, W., He, J.-S., Klein, A.-M., Kühn, P., Liang, Y., Liu, X., Michalski, S., Niklaus, P. A., Pei, K., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Scholten, T., Schuldt, A., Seidler, G., Trogisch, S., von Oheimb, G., Welk, E., Wirth, C., Wubet, T., et al.

Designing forest biodiversity experiments: general considerations illustrated by a new large experiment in subtropical China Methods in Ecology and Evolution 5(1), 74-89

Kattge, J., Diaz, S., Wirth, C.

Of carrots and sticks Nature Geoscience 7(11), 778-79

Marra, D. M., Chambers, J. Q., Higuchi, N., Trumbore, S. E., Ribeiro, G., dos Santos, J., Negron-Juarez, R. I., Reu, B., Wirth, C.

Large-Scale Wind Disturbances Promote Tree Diversity in a Central Amazon Forest PLoS ONE 9(8), 16

Nadrowski, K., Pietsch, K., Baruffol, M., Both, S., Gutknecht, J., Bruelheide, H., Heklau, H., Kahl, A., Kahl, T., Niklaus, P., Kröber, W., Liu, X., Mi, X., Michalski, S., von Oheimb, G., Purschke, O., Schmid, B., Fang, T., Welk, E., Wirth, C.

Tree Species Traits but Not Diversity Mitigate Stem Breakage in a Subtropical Forest following a Rare and Extreme Ice Storm PLoS ONE 9(5), e96022

Pietsch, K. A., Ogle, K., Cornelissen, J. H. C., Cornwell, W. K., Bonisch, G., Craine, J. M., Jackson, B. G., Kattge, J., Peltzer, D. A., Penuelas, J., Reich, P. B., Wardle, D. A., Weedon, J. T., Wright, I. J., Zanne, A. E., Wirth, C.

Global relationship of wood and leaf litter decomposability: the role of functional traits within and across plant organs Global Ecology and Biogeography 23(9), 1046-57

Ravenek, J. M., Bessler, H., Engels, C., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Gessler, A., Gockele, A., De Luca, E., Temperton, V. M., Ebeling, A., Roscher, C., Schmid, B., Weisser, W. W., Wirth, C., de Kroon, H., Weigelt, A., Mommer, L.

Long-term study of root biomass in a biodiversity experiment reveals shifts in diversity effects over time Oikos 123(12), 1528-36

Ruiz-Benito, P., Madrigal-Gonzalez, J., Ratcliffe, S., Coomes, D. A., Kaendler, G., Lehtonen, A., Wirth, C., Zavala, M. A.

Stand Structure and Recent Climate Change Constrain Stand Basal Area Change in European Forests: A Comparison Across Boreal, Temperate, and Mediterranean Biomes Ecosystems 17(8), 1439-54

Seiferling, I., Proulx, R., Wirth, C.

Disentangling the environmental-heterogeneity species-diversity relationship along a gradient of human footprint Ecology 95(8), 2084-95

Stahl, U., Reu, B., Wirth, C.

Predicting species' range limits from functional traits for the tree flora of North America Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111(38), 13739-44

Baeten, L., Verheyen, K., Wirth, C., Bruelheide, H., Bussotti, F., Finér, L., Jaroszewicz, B., Selvi, F., Valladares, F., Allan, E., Ampoorter, E., Auge, H., et al.

A novel comparative research platform designed to determine the functional significance of tree species diversity in European forests Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 15(5), 281-91

Grote, S., Condit, R., Hubbell, S., Wirth, C., Rüger, N.

Response of Demographic Rates of Tropical Trees to Light Availability: Can Position-Based Competition Indices Replace Information from Canopy Census Data? PLoS ONE 8(12), 14

Stahl, U., Kattge, J., Reu, B., Voigt, W., Ogle, K., Dickie, J., Wirth, C.

Whole-plant trait spectra of North American woody plant species reflect fundamental ecological strategies Ecosphere 4(10), art128
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Leipzig University
Institute of Biology
Special Botany and Functional Biodiversity Research
Johannisallee 21-23
04103 Leipzig, Germany

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