Max Planck Gesellschaft

Research Groups and Projects

Molecular Biogeochemistry


The research group explores key processes in the global biogeochemical cycles at the molecular level. Biomarkers and their isotopic content hold information on the regulation of the individual processes. The group is developing new tools and is applying existing techniques to investigate single key processes.


Theoretical Ecosystem Ecology


We study interactions between the environment and multiple biogeochemical cycles, with particular attention to interactions that could lead to abrupt changes in biogeochemical functioning. Our group works on synthesis of models and observations, and produces computational tools in open source software environments.


Soil Biogeochemistry


The Soil Biogeochemistry Group aims at understanding and quantifying the role of belowground processes for biogeochemical cycles at different spatial scales. Our main objective is explaining the persistence of organic matter in soils in order to assess its vulnerability to global environmental and land use changes. More specifically, we are interested in (1) explaining the vertical profile of organic carbon and radiocarbon in soils, thereby identifying factors affecting the stability of organic carbon in topsoils and subsoils; (2) exploring how plants, soil properties and microorganisms affect carbon storage via interacting carbon and nutrient cycles, including the role of biodiversity for soil functions; (3) finding abstractions and simplified descriptions of these processes to better represent soils in ecosystem and earth system models.


Plant Allocation


Sessile organisms like plants face particular challenges under rapidly changing environmental conditions because they generally cannot escape by migration, at least not within the life span of an individual. Plants require very efficient mechanisms to resist or avoid harsh environmental conditions. Although many conceptual models have been developed for how plants allocate resources most efficiently, the empirical basis for plant resource partitioning is still poor. The Plant Allocation Group has been using manipulative experiments to induce severe resource limitation as a means to gain profound insight into plant functioning.


Landscape Processes


Integrating remote sensing and GIS with ecology for process-based understanding and prediction at landscape to regional scales

Landscapes are mosaics of different patches and gradients, varying in size, shape, composition and spatial configuration at multiple scales. This spatio-temporal heterogeneity has often been ignored in ecology, which traditionally focused on similarities rather than differences in ecological systems. We explore the processes that create, maintain and modify landscape heterogeneity, and assess the consequences of heterogeneity for ecological functioning and biodiversity conservation in the context of global change.


Emeritus Group Prof. Dr. E.-D. Schulze


The emeritus group focusses its work on the relation between plant biodiversity and land management. In this context, a sub-project develops a tool for plant identification.


Tanguro Flux


We are studying how land use and forest disturbance alter fluxes of energy, water and carbon in evolving landscapes in the southern Amazon, in Mato Grosso, Brazil. This research is a collaboration between MPI-BGC, IPAM, the Woods Hole Research Center and the University of Brasilia.


Tall Tower Atmospheric Gas Measurements


High precision, ground-based, and vertically resolved quasi-continuous atmospheric measurements of biogeochemical trace gases at coastal and continental sites are vital for the study of atmospheric transport, biogeochemical fluxes and human emissions. Our group develops and maintains atmospheric measurement sites and instrumentation with the objective of investigating global climate hot-spots and supporting the global atmospheric observational system.

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