Max Planck Gesellschaft

Richard Nair

Postdoctoral Researcher
phone: +49 3641 578986
room: C2.024

Research Interests

I work on ecology and biogeochemistry of plants and soils in the context of ongoing anthropogenic global change. I am particularly interested in nutrient (particularly nitrogen) dynamics and plant investment into nutrient uptake and re-cycling. Methodologically, I use both destructive techniques, including stable isotope tracers (e.g. 13C and 15N) as well as non-destructive observational methods. Below-ground these latter methods are very limited and I am currently working on improving image interpretation (both in terms of information extraction and relevance to ecosystem functionality) from minirhizotron measurements of roots.

My Work at BGI

I am a member of the BAIE Group and Soil Biogeochemistry Group, working on plant-soil system processes in the MANIP experiment. At this site in the Spanish dehesa (a seasonally dry, managed agroforestry ecosystem), N/P stoichometry has been manipulated by nutrient additions. We are interested in how this affects ecosystem processes, particularly its potential to act as a C sink or source. I joined the group in October 2015 and am currently working on experiments investigating belowground processes and responses to nutrient additions. I am using a custom-built minirhizotron (below-ground camera system) root observations in situ and developing quantitative methods for relating such 'remote sensed' observations to real properties of roots and soils. Additionally I am using 15N and 14C-labelled litter to measure litter decomposition and nutrient cycling processes which I aim to relate to root activities and other soil properties measured at our field site.

From June 2017 to 2019, I was a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the institute. I am developing minirhizotron systems capable of sub-daily measurements, attempting to link fine-scale above- and below-ground phenology. This involves both mesocosms here in Jena, and eventually, deployment of the new minirhizotron cameras to our Spanish field site. More information about this project is available here

Professional and Educational Background

  • Post-Doc (Marie-Curie Individual Fellowship) Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany (June 2017 - 2019)
  • Post-Doc Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany (October 2015 - May 2017)
  • Research Associate School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, UK (October 2014 - April 2015)
  • PhD School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, UK (September 2010 – August 2014)
    Thesis title: Using Stable Isotopes To Investigate Interactions Between The Forest Carbon and Nitrogen Cycles
    Supervisors: Maurizio Mencuccini, Mike Perks (Forest Research), Pete Levy (CEH Edinburgh)
  • MRes Ecology and Environmental Management, University of York, UK (October 2009 - September 2010)


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