Project in the picture

Impact of soil conditions on herbaceous plant species in forests

In this project we examine the effects of soil chemical variables and soil moisture on the species composition of the herbaceous layer of deciduous forests across Europe.


We want to replace the often used plot means of Ellenberg Indicator Values and predict local species richness based on actually measured soil data, including soil moisture. Soil moisture is rarely assessed, its measurement will help to increase the knowledge of the responses of herbaceous plant species to soil moisture across a European scale, which is especially important in the context of global climate change and the predicted long drought periods. By taking several samples in each plot, we also aim to investigate whether soil heterogeneity in terms of the variation of soil variables contributes in explaining local species richness.


1170 soil samples from 234 deciduous forest plots were sampled along a European gradient from southwest to northeast including five study regions (Belgium, West Germany, East Germany, South Sweden, Estonia). To obtain data on the environmental heterogeneity of the soil, five sub-samples per plot were taken.


The project is coordinated by Martin Diekmann at the University of Bremen in collaboration with the FLEUR network.