Organization of plant populations and communities

Experimental Plant Ecology

Biodiversity – the variety of individuals, populations, species, and ecosystems and the natural processes occurring in them – is the basis of life and a main focus of the research at our institute. The landscape changes of the last decades have resulted in many plant species occurring in smaller and more isolated populations than in the past. Yet even in conditions of relatively intact habitat quality, such populations can be at risk from various factors: environmental fluctuations, genetic impoverishment and ensuing inbreeding problems, changes in biological interactions (such as insufficient pollination or increased susceptibility to herbivores and pathogenes). At the same time, landscape changes and human activities have led to the increase of exotic species which affect the native species and ecosystems. Our research focuses on these various aspects causing a loss of biodiversity. Furthermore, we investigate the consequences of biodiversity loss for populations and ecosystems. In particular, we ask how reductions in genetic diversity affect the viability of populations and how reductions in species diversity can make ecosystems less resilient to environmental impacts.

Recent Publications

  • Diversity increases yield but reduces reproductive effort in crop mixtures
    Chen JG, Engbersen N, Stefan L, Schmid B, Sun H, Schöb C
    Nature Plants, 2021, published online 24th June. Doi: 10.1038/s41477-021-00948-4
  • Diversity and asynchrony in soil microbial communities stabilizes ecosystem functioning
    Wagg, Cameron; Hautier, Yann; Pellkofer, Sarah; Banerjee, Samiran; Schmid, Bernhard; van der Heijden, Marcel G. A.
    Elife, 10.7554/eLife.62813, MAR 23 2021
  • An experimental approach to assessing the impact of ecosystem engineers on biodiversity and ecosystem functions
    Losapio, Gianalberto; Schmid, Bernhard; Bascompte, Jordi; Michalet, Richard; Cerretti, Pierfilippo; Germann, Christoph; Haenni, Jean-Paul; Neumeyer, Rainer; Javier Ortiz-Sanchez, Francisco; Pont, Adrian C; Rousse, Pascal; Schmid, Jurg; Sommaggio, Daniele; Schoeb, Christian
    Ecology, DOI: 10.1002/ecy.3243  FEB 2021
  • The results of biodiversity-ecosystem functioning experiments are realistic
    Jochum, Malte; Fischer, Markus; Isbell, Forest; Roscher, Christiane; van der Plas, Fons; Boch, Steffen; Boenisch, Gerhard; Buchmann, Nina; Catford, Jane A; Cavender-Bares, Jeannine; Ebeling, Anne; Eisenhauer, Nico; Gleixner, Gerd; Hoelzel, Norbert; Kattge, Jens; Klaus, Valentin H.; Kleinebecker, Till; Lange, Markus; Le Provost, Gaetane; Meyer, Sebastian T.; Molina-Venegas, Rafael; Mommer, Liesje; Oelmann, Yvonne; Penone, Caterina; Prati, Daniel; Reich, Peter B.; Rindisbacher, Abiel; Schaefer, Deborah; Scheu, Stefan; Schmid, Bernhard; Tilman, David; Tscharntke, Teja; Vogel, Anja; Wagg, Cameron; Weigelt, Alexandra; Weisser, Wolfgang W.; Wilcke, Wolfgang; Manning, Peter
    Nature Ecology & Evolution Nov 2020, DOI: 10.1038/s41559-020-1280-9
  • Co-occurrence history increases ecosystem stability and resilience in experimental plant communities
    van Moorsel, Sofia J.; Hahl, Terhi; Petchey, Owen L.; Ebeling, Anne; Eisenhauer, Nico; Schmid, Bernhard; Wagg, Cameron
    Ecology   DOI: 10.1002/ecy.3205   OCT 2020
  • The role of soluble sugars during drought in tropical tree seedlings with contrasting tolerances
    O'Brien, Michael J.; Valtat, Annabelle; Abiven, Samuel; Studer, Mirjam S.; Ong, Robert; et al.
    Journal Of Plant Ecology   DOI: 10.1093/jpe/rtaa017   AUG 2020
  • Diverse plant mixtures sustain a greater arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi spore viability than monocultures after 12 years
    Dietrich, Peter; Roscher, Christiane; Clark, Adam Thomas; Eisenhauer, Nico; Schmid, Bernhard; et al.
    Journal Of Plant Ecology   DOI: 10.1093/jpe/rtaa037  AUG 2020
  • Plant traits alone are poor predictors of ecosystem properties and long-term ecosystem functioning
    van der Plas, Fons; Schroeder-Georgi, Thomas; Weigelt, Alexandra; Barry, Kathryn; Meyer, Sebastian; et al.
    Nature Ecology & Evolution  DOI: 10.1038/s41559-020-01316-9  DEC 2020
  • Local and landscape-level diversity effects on forest functioning
    Oehri, Jacqueline; Buergin, Marvin; Schmid, Bernhard; Niklaus, Pascal A.
    Plos One,  Published: MAY 14 2020 , DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0233104
  • Directed species loss reduces community productivity in a subtropical forest biodiversity experiment
    Chen, Yuxin; Huang, Yuanyuan; Niklaus, Pascal A.; Castro-Izaguirre, Nadia; Clark, Adam Thomas; Bruelheide, Helge; Ma, Keping; Schmid, Bernhard
    Nature Ecology & Evolution 10.1038/s41559-020-1127-4  2020
  • Monitoring biodiversity in the Anthropocene using remote sensing in species distribution models
    Randin, Christophe F.; Ashcroft, Michael B.; Bolliger, Janine; Cavender-Bares, Jeannine; Coops, Nicholas C.; et al.
    Remote Sensing Of Environment  DOI: 10.1016/j.rse.2019.111626, Published: MAR 15 2020
  • Biodiversity increases multitrophic energy use efficiency, flow and storage in grasslands
    Buzhdygan, OY; Meyer, ST; Weisser, WW; Eisenhauer, N; Ebeling, A; Borrett, SR; Buchmann, N; Cortois, R; De Deyn, GB; de Kroon, H; Gleixner, G; Hertzog, LR; Hines, J; Lange, M; Mommer, L ; Ravenek, J; Scherber, C; Scherer-Lorenzen, M; Scheu, S; Schmid, B; Steinauer, K; Strecker, T; Tietjen, B; Vogel, A; Weigelt, A; Petermann, JS
    Nature Ecology & Evolution  4(3): 393-+ DOI: 10.1038/s41559-020-1123-8  MAR 2020
  • Community-wide trait means and variations affect biomass in a biodiversity experiment with tree seedlings
    Luo, Shan; Schmid, Bernhard; Wagg, Cameron; Chen, Yuxin; Jiang, Bin; et al.
    Oikos 10.1111/oik.07273, FEB 2020
  • Terrestrial land-cover type richness is positively linked to landscape-level functioning
    Oehri, Jacqueline; Schmid, Bernhard; Schaepman-Strub, Gabriela; Niklaus, Pascal A.
    Nature Communications 11(1), Article Number: 154, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-14002-7, JAN 9 2020
  • Nematode communities, plant nutrient economy and life-cycle characteristics jointly determine plant monoculture performance over 12 years
    Dietrich, Peter; Roeder, Anna; Cesarz, Simone; Eisenhauer, Nico; Ebeling, Anne; Schmid, Bernhard; Schulze, Ernst-Detlef; Wagg, Cameron; Weigelt, Alexandra; Roscher, Christiane
    Oikos  10.1111/oik.06989 JAN 2020
Bernhard Schmid

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Schmid
University of Zurich
Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
8008 Zurich

Now: Remote Sensing Laboratories, Dept of Geography

Tel: +41 (0)44 635 52 05

Research topics

  • Community assembly processes 
  • Effects of forest biodiversity on ecosystem carbon flux
  • Ecological genetics
  • Plant–soil feedbacks
  • Invasion biology
  • Ecology of endangered plant species



  • Biodiversity–ecosystem services
  • Trophic interactions between plants and other organisms (including mycorrhiza, pathogens, herbivores, pollinators)
  • Ecology of Arabidopsis and wheat in collaboration with geneticists
  • Perception and valuation of biodiversity