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

  • 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
  • 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 Early Access: AUG 2020, DOI: 10.1038/s41559-020-1280-9
  • 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
  • A multitrophic perspective on biodiversity-ecosystem functioning research
    Eisenhauer, Nico; Schielzeth, Holger; Barnes, Andrew D.; Barry, Kathryn E.; Bonn, Aletta; et al.
    Mechanisms Underlying The Relationship Between Biodiversity And Ecosystem Function,  DOI: 10.1016/bs.aecr.2019.06.001
  • Inferring competitive outcomes, ranks and intransitivity from empirical data: A comparison of different methods
    Feng, Yanhao; Soliveres, Santiago; Allan, Eric; Rosenbaum, Benjamin; Wagg, Cameron; Tabi, A; De Luca, E; Eisenhauer, N;  Schmid, B; Weigelt, A; Weisser, WW; Roscher, C; Fischer, M
    Methods In Ecology And Evolution,  DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.13326
  • Limited evidence for spatial resource partitioning across temperate grassland biodiversity experiments
    Barry, Kathryn E.; van Ruijven, Jasper; Mommer, Liesje; Bai, Yongfei; Beierkuhnlein, Carl; Buchmann, N; de Kroon, H; Ebeling, A; Eisenhauer, N; Guimaraes-Steinicke, C; Hildebrandt, A; Isbell, F; Milcu, A; Nesshover, C; Reich, PB; Roscher, C; Sauheitl, L; Scherer-Lorenzen, M; Schmid, B; Tilman, D; von Felten, S; Weigelt, A
    Ecology,  DOI: 10.1002/ecy.2905
  • Family-level leaf nitrogen and phosphorus stoichiometry of global terrestrial plants
    Tian, D; Yan, ZB; Ma, SH; Ding, YH; Luo, YK; Chen, YH; Du, EZ; Han, WX; Kovacs, ED; Shen, HH; Hu, HF; Kattge, J; Schmid, B; Fang, JY
    SCIENCE CHINA-LIFE SCIENCES, 62 (8):1047-1057; 10.1007/s11427-019-9584-1 AUG 2019
  • Climatic controls of decomposition drive the global biogeography of forest-tree symbioses
    Steidinger, BS; Crowther, TW; Liang, J; Van Nuland, ME; Werner, GDA; Reich, PB; et al.
    Group Author(s): GFBI Consortium
    NATURE, 569 (7756):404-+; 10.1038/s41586-019-1128-0 MAY 16 2019
  • Spatial variation of human influences on grassland biomass on the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau
    Li, CX; de Jong, R; Schmid, B; Wulf, H; Schaepman, ME
    SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT, 665 678-689; 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.01.321 MAY 15 2019
  • Increasing water availability and facilitation weaken biodiversity-biomass relationships in shrublands
    Guo, YP; Schob, C; Ma, WH; Mohammat, A; Liu, HY; Yu, SL; Jiang, YX; Schmid, B; Tang, ZY
    ECOLOGY, 100 (3):10.1002/ecy.2624 MAR 2019
  • Plant interactions shape pollination networks via nonadditive effects
    Losapio, G; Fortuna, MA; Bascompte, J; Schmid, B; Michalet, R; Neumeyer, R; Castro, L; Cerretti, P; Germann, C; Haenni, JP; Klopfstein, S; Ortiz-Sanchez, FJ; Pont, AC; Rousse, P; Schmid, J; Sommaggio, D; Schob, C
    ECOLOGY, 100 (3):10.1002/ecy.2619 MAR 2019
  • Feedbacks of plant identity and diversity on the diversity and community composition of rhizosphere microbiomes from a long-term biodiversity experiment
    Schmid, MW; Hahl, T; van Moorsel, SJ; Wagg, C; De Deyn, GB; Schmid, B
    MOLECULAR ECOLOGY, 28 (4):863-878; 10.1111/mec.14987 FEB 2019
  • Response to Comment on "Impacts of species richness on productivity in a large-scale subtropical forest experiment"
    Bruelheide, H; Chen, YX; Huang, YY; Ma, KP; Niklaus, PA; Schmid, B
    SCIENCE, 363 (6423):10.1126/science.aav9863 JAN 11 2019
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