+ 33 4 34 35 98 94 ecotron@cnrs.fr


To deepen our knowledge of the mechanisms underlying the relationships between plant diversity and ecosystem processes based on a long-term experiment (Jena – experiment) on biodiversity. To provide a comprehensive assessment of the carbon and nitrogen cycles.

Number of rooms used

  • 12

Project Duration

  • 18 months

Exploring the mechanisms underlying the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning


Jacques Roy ; Alexandru Milcu ; Christianne Roscher ; Dörte Bachmann ; Annette Gockele ; Markus Guderle ; Damien Landais ; Clément Piel ; Christophe Escape ; Sebastien Devidal ; Olivier Ravel ; Nina Buchmann ; Arthur Gessler ; Gerd Gleixner; Anke Hildebrandt


Ecotron – ETH – Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry


  • Functional diversity of leaf nitrogen concentrations drives grassland carbon fluxes. Journal : Ecology Letters Référence   LIRE…
  • Dynamic niche partitioning in root water uptake facilitates efficient water use in more diverse grassland plant communities. Journal : Functionnal Ecology Référence LIRE…
  • Top canopy nitrogen allocation linked to increased grassland carbon uptake in stands of varying species richness. Journal : Scientific Reports Référence https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-08819-9
  • Biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning in a 15-year grassland experiment: Patterns, mechanisms, and open questions. Journal : Basic and Applied Ecology Référence LIRE…
The first experimental demonstration that biodiversity loss can affect ecosystem performance was carried out at an environmentally controlled facility (the Ecotron at Silwood Park, UK) and the results had a profound impact on the direction of subsequent ecological research and the conservation of natural systems [Naeem, et al. (1994), Nature 368: 734-737]. Two decades later, while there is unequivocal evidence that biodiversity loss reduces the efficiency with which ecological communities capture biologically essential resources, it is still difficult to assess the mechanisms by which species richness affects carbon (C) fluxes in the field.

We took advantage of the new Ecotron facility of the CNRS (Montpellier, France) to study the effects of plant species and functional diversity on C fluxes in model grasslands sampled in a long-term biodiversity experiment (The Jena Experiment). Unique features of the experimental facility include the use of a large lysimeter (2m² and 2m depth) combined with on-line and continuous measurements of C fluxes. We found that increased plant species richness resulted in increased ecosystem uptake of C and increased water use efficiency during the growing season. The mechanisms by which species richness affected C fluxes are discussed.