ESP Europe Conference 2018

Some people from our Lab – Maria, Noëlle and Abiel – as well as Markus Fischer have been to the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP) Conference 2018 in San Sebastian, Spain.

We enjoyed a week of great talks and keynotes but also other “services” like local customs showcased during the conference, all kinds of pintxos, as well as the beautiful sights of the city and surrounding landscapes and see.

Our session T2b Linking land management and biodiversity change to ecosystem services organized by Maria was met with great interest by participants. We had lively discussion on how we can bridge from ecosystem functioning to ecosystem services to policy and how we should not forget that they are underpinned by biodiversity. We also agreed that a more mechanistic understanding would further the usefulness of the ecosystem service concept.

Twitter: #esp18eu

ESP session

Maria presenting her talk

Basque stone-lifitng_wide

Basque stone-lifting before the poster session

San Sebastian sea

Noëlle and Maria on the beach

PaNDiv-ing in China

I recently arrived in China for a two months research stay as part of my PhD in the PaNDiv project. PaNDiv is a large grassland biodiversity experiment in Bern, established in 2015. We manipulate biodiversity, functional composition, nitrogen and foliar fungal pathogens. I study the role of fungal pathogens in this grassland. Soon after I started my PhD, I found Xiang Liu and the research group of professor Shurong Zhou because of two amazing papers about fungal pathogens and nitrogen enrichment in grassland. This sounds like PaNDiv, but in China instead of Switzerland. Excitingly their results point in a similar direction as our preliminary analysis for the PaNDiv Experiment, with faster growing plant communities under nitrogen fertilization showing higher infection levels than slower growing ones. This indicates that we are on the trail of universally valid patterns (at least for grasslands) and just screams for collaboration and measurements to make our results more comparable. The Young Academic Support of the University of Bern allows me to travel to China, learn new ways of measuring fungal infection and measure plant traits related to their growth strategy to link this to fungal infection. Before I “PaNDived” into field work on the Tibetan High plateau, I stayed a few days in Shanghai, to get to know the research group. Xiang already gave me a very warm welcome (haha warm: its 35°C outside and very tropical). An update about field work in China will follow soon.
the view from my current home


Our community ecology group at University of Bern (led by Eric Allan) works on two interlinked questions: what maintains diversity within plant communities? And what effects do changes in community diversity have on the functioning of ecosystems and the services they provide?
We try to understand the biodiversity of plant communities from several different angles and we do experiments in the field and greenhouse and use statistical modelling to test these questions in large datasets.
On our website you can find more information on the major projects we are involved in, together with updates on our activities and interests.