Responses of plants and ecosystems to global environmental change

Physiological Plant Ecology
Plants are fundamental components of the earth system. Their ability to assimilate atmospheric CO2 and to transpire H2O drives the biogeochemical cycles in ecosystems and determines as such the provision of ecosystem goods and services that we as people depend on. In the Physiological Plant Ecology Group at ETH Zurich we investigate the physiological responses of plants to their environmental in order to understand how plants govern the function of ecosystems in a changing world. Our research operates at different scales that range from the leaf to the landscape level and links plant ecophysiology to plant population dynamics and ecosystem biogeochemistry.


  • Past and future snowmelt trends in the Swiss Alps: the role of temperature and snowpack
    Vorkauf, Maria; Marty, Christoph; Kahmen, Ansgar; Hiltbrunner, Erika
    Climatic Change  10.1007/s10584-021-03027-x Published: APR 2021
  • Flowering phenology in alpine grassland strongly responds to shifts in snowmelt but weakly to summer drought
    Vorkauf, Maria; Kahmen, Ansgar; Korner, Christian; Hiltbrunner, Erika
    Alpine Botany 10.1007/s00035-021-00252-z Published: APR 2021
  • On the use of leaf water to determine plant water source: A proof of concept
    Benettin, Paolo; Nehemy, Magali F.; Cernusak, Lucas A.; Kahmen, Ansgar; McDonnell, Jeffrey J.
    Hydrological Processes 10.1002/hyp.14073 Published: MAR 2021
  • Timing of drought in the growing season and strong legacy effects determine the annual productivity of temperate grasses in a changing climate
    Hahn, Claudia; Luscher, Andreas; Ernst-Hasler, Sara; Suter, Matthias; Kahmen, Ansgar
    Biogeosciences, 10.5194/bg-18-585-2021    JAN 27 2021
  • A bottom-up quantification of foliar mercury uptake fluxes across Europe
    Wohlgemuth, Lena; Osterwalder, Stefan; Joseph, Carl; Kahmen, Ansgar; Hoch, Gunter; et al.
    Biogeosciences, 10.5194/bg-17-6441-2020  DEC 21 2020
  • Drivers and dynamics of a massive adaptive radiation in cichlid fishes
    Ronco, Fabrizia; Matschiner, Michael; Boehne, Astrid; Boila, Anna; Buescher, Heinz H.; El Taher, Athimed; Indermaur, Adrian; Malinsky, Milan; Ricci, Virginie; Kahmen, Ansgar; Jentoft, Sissel; Salzburger, Walter
    Nature    DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2930-4 NOV 2020
  • Validation and calibration of soil delta H-2 and brGDGTs along (E-W) and strike (N-S) of the Himalayan climatic gradient
    van der Veen, Iris; Peterse, Francien; Davenport, Jesse; Meese, Bernd; Bookhagen, Bodo; et al.
    Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta  DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2020.09.014 DEC 1 2020
  • Improving the extraction and purification of leaf and phloem sugars for oxygen isotope analyses
    Lehmann, Marco M.; Egli, Melanie; Brinkmann, Nadine; Werner, Roland A.; Saurer, Matthias; et al.
    Rapid Communications In Mass Spectrometry   DOI: 10.1002/rcm.8854  OCT 15 2020
  • Rhizosphere activity in an old-growth forest reacts rapidly to changes in soil moisture and shapes whole-tree carbon allocation
    Joseph, Jobin; Gao, Decai; Backes, Bernhard; Bloch, Corinne; Brunner, Ivano; et al.
    Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America  DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2014084117  OCT 2020
  • Deep-rooted pigeon pea promotes the water relations and survival of shallow-rooted finger millet during drought-Despite strong competitive interactions at ambient water availability
    Singh, Devesh; Mathimaran, Natarajan; Boller, Thomas; Kahmen, Ansgar
    Plos One  DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0228993 Published: FEB 13 2020
  • Drivers and dynamics of a massive adaptive radiation in cichlid fishes
    Fabrizia Ronco, Michael Matschiner, Astrid Böhne, Anna Boila, Heinz H. Büscher, Athimed El Taher, Adrian Indermaur, Milan Malinsky, Virginie Ricci, Ansgar Kahmen, Sissel Jentoft and Walter Salzburger
    Nature (2020), doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2930-4
  • A first assessment of the impact of the extreme 2018 summer drought on Central European forests
    Schuldt B; Buras A; Arend M; Vitasse Y; Beierkuhnlein, C; Damm, A; Gharun, M; Grams, TEE; Hauck, M; Hajek, P; Hartmann, H; Hiltbrunner, E; Hoch, G; Holloway-Phillips, M; Koerner, C; Larysch, E; Lubbe, T; Nelson, DB; Rammig, A; Rigling, A; Rose, L; Ruehr, NK; Schumann, K; Weiser, F; Werner, C; Wohlgemuth, T; Zang, CS; Kahmen, A
    Basic And Applied Ecology 2020, 10.1016/j.baae.2020.04.003
  • Soil nutrients and lowered source:sink ratio mitigate effects of mild but not of extreme drought in trees
    Schoenbeck, L; Gessler, A; Schaub, M Rigling, A; Hoch, G; Kahmen A, Li MH
    Environmental And Experimental Botany,  DOI: 10.1016/j.envexpbot.2019.103905  JAN 2020
  • The O-18-signal transfer from water vapour to leaf water and assimilates varies among plant species and growth forms
    Lehmann, MM.; Goldsmith, GR.; Mirande-Ney, C; Weigt, RB.; Schoenbeck, L; Kahmen, A; Gessler A; Siegwolf RTW; Saurer M
    Plant Cell And Environment,  DOI: 10.1111/pce.13682, FEB 2020
  • Temperature and moisture variability in the eastern Mediterranean region during Marine Isotope Stages 11-10 based on biomarker analysis of the Tenaghi Philippon peat deposit
    Ardenghi, N; Mulch, A; Koutsodendris, A; Pross, J; Kahmen, A; et al.
    Quaternary Science Reviews,  DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2019.105977, Published: DEC 1 2019
Ansgar Kahmen Univ Basel

Prof. Dr. Ansgar Kahmen
University of Basel
Dept of Environmental Sciences
4056 Basel

Tel: +41 (0)61 207 35 71

Research topics

  • The responses of plants and ecosystems to environmental change
  • Biological archives as long-term indicators for the effects of environmental change on plants and ecosystems
  • The effects of plant diversity for ecosystem functions
  • Competition and complementary use of nutrients by plants and microbes
  • Development of stable isotope tools for ecological research



  • The stable isotope composition of plant-derived biomarkers for paleohydrological research