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Project Partners

Experts from research, administration and private economy cooperate in the SUSALPS project.

The Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Atmospheric Environmental Research (IMK-IFU), which is coordinating the SUSALPS project, belongs to the Karlsruhe Institute of Technologie (KIT). The IMK-IFU has gained national and international reputation for its expertise in exchange processes between the biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere, with a strong focus on greenhouse gas exchange.

Further research foci are the development of process based biogeochemical models and sustainability studies. In the last two decades, the researchers involved in SUSALPS have focused on carbon and nitrogen turnover processes and the associated biosphere-atmosphere exchange of gaseous C and N species. This focus lead to the development of fully automated measurement systems which have been deployed in various international projects to investigate the soil source strength for CO2, CH4, NO, N2O und N2 in high temporal resolution.

In addition, the KIT is proficient in the application of stable isotope techniques to study biochemical processes. The Center for Stable Isotopes ( offers excellent instrumentation an has resulted in the advancement of methods quantifying gross rates of carbon and nitrogen turnover.

The KIT coordinates the TERENO pre-alpine observatory funded by BMBF and the Helmholtz Association. TERENO per-alpine focuses on temperate grasslands so that corresponding expertise has been built up over several years. 

The Chair of Soil Science focuses on the general characterization of soil organic matter (SOM) and the identification and extraction of functional soil organic matter pools that are important for long term stabilization of carbon in soils and at the same time are responsible for the formation of biogeochemical interfaces in aggregated soils. We use state-of-the-art techniques of SOM characterization by combining solid-state 13C NMR spectroscopy to analyze bulk SOM composition with chemolytic techniques and GC-MS for the analysis of major SOM compounds relevant for the soil C cycle, especially polysaccharides, lignin and cutin/suberin. Structural chemical as well as spatial variability of SOM has to be considered in order to understand the sensitivity of SOM pools to degradation. For this we use nano-scale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS), allowing the simultaneous analysis of up to seven ion species with high sensitivity and resolution. It is an unprecedented tool for the analysis of biogeochemical processes and properties of soils, as it enables us to investigate the elemental and isotopic composition of soils at the submicron scale.

For more than a decade, the department of Disturbance Ecology at the University of Bayreuth (UBT-DE) has conducted extensive experiments to study the effects of extreme weather events and land-use changes on grasslands. In particular, the department of Disturbance Ecology focuses on quantifying ecological effects of extreme weather events, such as drought (Arfin-Khan et al., 2014, Gargallo-Garriga et al. 2015, Urbina et al. 2015), heavy rain (Grant et al. 2014b) or frost regimes.  The head of the department of Disturbance Ecology, Prof. Anke Jentsch, is a member of numerous international consortia which conduct global coordinated experiments studying grasslands according to standardized methods (i.e. HerbDivNet, DroughtNet, ClimMani). Furthermore, Anke Jentsch participates in the HORIZON 2020-project (ECOPOTENTIAL), leads a BiodivERsA-project that spans Europe (SIGNAL), and is a member of the Bayreuth Centre of Ecology and Environmental Research (BAYCEER), resulting in numerous publications in high-ranked scientific journals (Kreyling et al. 2014, Fraser et al. 2015). The EVENT (I & II) experiments in Bayreuth consist of defined communities with differing plant-diversity levels. This field experiment deals with effects of different disturbance regimes and events as well as manipulation of climatic events (Backhaus et al., 2014). The experiments are conducted in the ecological-botanical garden of the University of Bayreuth. At present the Department of Disturbance Ecology coordinates the SIGNAL-project. This consists of both drought and mesocosm experiments and is conducted in ten European countries.

The main goal of the Professorship of Ecological Services (PES) is to establish a research and teaching program to understand the societal relevance of ecosystem services given global change scenarios. For stimulating high practical relevance we embed the research on ecosystem services in “real” decision contexts. Study regions are in Germany, Switzerland, South Korea, Tajikistan and Ethiopia.

The research program does focus on spatial-temporal models of the supply of and demand for ecosystem services. We want to investigate the complex of human decision-making, resulting land use/cover, biodiversity and ecosystem services given scenarios of climate change, market change and policy development. We investigate this in an interdisciplinary manner at the interface of the environmental system and the human system.

The Professorship of Ecological Services is member of the BAYreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research (BAYCEER).

The central goal of the research unit Environmental Genomics at the Helmholtz-Centre Munich is the sustainable use of genetic resources of microbes from the environment. The research group “soil microbiome” addresses the functionality of soil microbial communities in a variety of ecosystems. 

The increase of extreme environmental conditions resulting from global change (e.g. climatic change and intensification of agricultural practices) has a fundamental influence on microbial community structures and functions in soil. Altered performance and microbe interaction patterns may influence soil quality and ecosystem services. The aim of our group is to observe changes in abundance and diversity of the soil microbial community in response to different drivers.   

As land-use has a substantial impact on soil microorganisms, one goal is to address how different land-use components such as mowing, grazing and fertilization and varying land-use intensities shape microbial community structure and function in soils to identify sustainable management practices. We also assess the consequences of climatic change on the activity, abundance and diversity of microorganisms involved in important geochemical nutrient cycles such as carbon-, phosphorous- and nitrogen-turnover by next generation sequencing combined with stable isotope probing and quantitative PCR approaches. Metagenomic analyses are used to describe a functional core microbiome, essential for the resilience and maintenance of soil functions.

By identifying key microbial communities and their response to changing environmental conditions, we contribute to a better understanding of direct effects of climatic change and land-use intensification and may develop strategies for sustaining important ecosystem services by predicting alterations in the soil microbial community.

WWL Umweltplanung und Geoinformatik GbR is a planning agency and a GIS service provider based in Bad Krozingen near Freiburg. The major business areas are geoinformatics, web portals, cartography and layout, planning and concepts as well as environmental planning. For more than 15 years, WWL develops customized solutions for national and international clients. It combines ecological and technical expertise with economic and socio-cultural knowledge. Close cooperation with scientific institutes and universities guarantees the implementation of new insights as well as a continuous revision of own concepts.

Working with Geographical Information Systems and space-related data bases is a core competence of WWL. Whether for analysis and visualization tools, for the implementation of data base solutions and environmental data portals or for the implementation of a self-developed Geo-CMS, WWL has profound experiences in all fields of Geoinformatics. WWL applies and uses particularly open source components in addition to proprietary software. Trainings on geoinformatics and on developed products are also a core part of WWL work content.

Furthermore, WWL operates an own high-end-UAV to create high-resolution orthomosaiques and digital elevation models.

The research focus of the Department of Remote Sensing at the Institute of Geography and Geology of the University of Würzburg lays on the development and application of remote sensing methods in the core fields of “ecosystem functioning and biodiversity”, “sustainable land management” as well as “applied environmental modelling and forest inventory”. In particular, time series of satellite data are used to quantify processes, changes and trends related to land use activities, environmental dynamics and global change.

The department of remote sensing is based within an institutional cooperation with the German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD) at the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

The Bavarian State Research Center for Agriculture (LfL) is the knowledge and service center for agriculture in Bavaria. The applied research of the LfL takes up issues of practice and provides applicable solutions for agriculture enterprises in various ways. Implementation of EU and national guidelines and programs as well as expert consulting complete the services. With the LfL, rural agriculture has a partner who can realistically and independently analyse the prospects for the future and can also, with its problem-oriented research, transfer knowledge and solutions directly into the practice, politics, economy and society.