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

  • 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; Nabuurs, G; De-Miguel, S; Zhou, M; Picard, N; Herault, B; Zhao, X; Zhang, C; Routh, D; Peay, KG; Abegg, M; Yao, CYA; Alberti, G; Zambrano, AA; Alvarez-Davila, E; Alvarez-Loayza, P; Alves, LF; Ammer, C; Anton-Fernandez, C; Araujo-Murakami, A; Arroyo, L; Avitabile, V; Aymard, G; Baker, T; Balazy, R; Banki, O; Barroso, J; Bastian, M; Bastin, JF; Birigazzi, L; Birnbaum, P; Bitariho, R; Boeckx, P; Bongers, F; Bouriaud, O; Brancalion, PHS; Brandl, S; Brearley, FQ; Brienen, R; Broadbent, E;  Bruelheide, H; Bussotti, F; Gatti, RC; Cesar, R; Cesljar, G; Chazdon, R; Chen, HYH; Chisholm, C; Cienciala, E; Clark, CJ; Clark, D; Colletta, G; Condit, R; Coomes, D; Valverde, FC; Corral-Rivas, JJ; Crim, P; Cumming, J; Dayanandan, S; de Gasper, AL; Decuyper, M; Derroire, G; DeVries, B; Djordjevic, I; Ieda, A; Dourdain, A; Obiang, NLE; Enquist, B; Eyre, T; Fandohan, AB; Fayle, TM; Feldpausch, TR; Finer, L; Fischer, M; Fletcher, C; Fridman, J; Frizzera, L; Gamarra, JGP; Gianelle, D; Glick, HB; Harris, D; Hector, A; Hemp, A; Hengeveld, G; Herbohn, J; Herold, M; Hillers, A; Coronado, ENH; Huber, M; Hui, C; Cho, H; Ibanez, T; Jung, I; Imai, N; Jagodzinski, AM; Jaroszewicz, B; Johannsen, V; Joly, CA; Jucker, T; Karminov, V; Kartawinata, K; Kearsley, E; Kenfack, D; Kennard, D; Kepfer-Rojas, S; Keppel, G; Khan, ML; Killeen, T; Kim, HS; Kitayama, K; Kohl, M; Korjus, H; Kraxner, F; Laarmann, D; Lang, M; Lewis, S; Lu, HC; Lukina, N; Maitner, B; Malhi, Y; Marcon, E; Marimon, BS; Marimon, BH; Marshall, AR; Martin, E; Martynenko, O; Meave, JA; Melo-Cruz, O; Mendoza, C; Merow, C; Mendoza, AM; Moreno, V; Mukul, SA; Mundhenk, P; Nava-Miranda, MG; Neill, D; Neldner, V; Nevenic, R; Ngugi, M; Niklaus, P; Oleksyn, J; Ontikov, P; Ortiz-Malavasi, E; Pan, YD; Paquette, A; Parada-Gutierrez, A; Parfenova, E; Park, M; Parren, M; Parthasarathy, N; Peri, PL; Pfautsch, S; Phillips, O; Piedade, MT; Piotto, D; Pitman, NCA; Polo, I; Poorter, L; Poulsen, AD; Poulsen, JR; Pretzsch, H; Arevalo, FR; Restrepo-Correa, Z; Rodeghiero, M; Rolim, S; Roopsind, A; Rovero, F; Rutishauser, E; Saikia, P; Saner, P; Schall, P; Schelhaas, MJ; Schepaschenko, D; Scherer-Lorenzen, M; Schmid, B; Schongart, J; Searle, E; Seben, V; Serra-Diaz, JM; Salas-Eljatib, C; Sheil, D; Shvidenko, A; Silva-Espejo, J; Silveira, M; Singh, J; Sist, P; Slik, F; Sonke, B; Souza, AF; Sterenczak, K; Svenning, JC; Svoboda, M; Targhetta, N; Tchebakova, N; ter Steege, H; Thomas, R; Tikhonova, E; Umunay, P; Usoltsev, V; Valladares, F; van der Plas, F; Do, TV; Martinez, RV; Verbeeck, H; Viana, H; Vieira, S; von Gadow, K; Wang, HF; Watson, J; Westerlund, B; Wiser, S; Wittmann, F; Wortel, V; Zagt, R; Zawila-Niedzwiecki, T; Zhu, ZX; Zo-Bi, IC
    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
  • Leaf-litter overyielding in a forest biodiversity experiment in subtropical China
    Huang, Yuanyuan; Ma, Keping; Niklaus, Pascal A.; Schmid, Bernhard
    FOREST ECOSYSTEMS, 5 10.1186/s40663-018-0157-8 NOV 22 2018
  • The assembly of a plant network in alpine vegetation
    Losapio, G; de la Cruz, M; Escudero, A; Schmid, B; Schob, C
    JOURNAL OF VEGETATION SCIENCE 29(6): 999-1006, DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12681, NOV 2018
  • Contribution of epigenetic variation to adaptation in Arabidopsis
    Schmid, MW; Heichinger, C; Schmid, DC; Guthorl, D; Gagliardini, V; Bruggmann, R; Aluri, S; Aquino, C; Schmid, B; Turnbull, LA; Grossniklaus, U
    NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 9 10.1038/s41467-018-06932-5 OCT 25 2018
  • Impacts of species richness on productivity in a large-scale subtropical forest experiment
    Huang, Y; Chen, Y; Castro-Izaguirre, N; Baruffol, M; Brezzi, M; Lang, AN; Li, Y; Haerdtle, W; Oheimb, G; Yang, X; Liu, X; Pei, K; Both, S; Yang, B; Eichenberg, D; Assmann, T; Bauhus, J; Behrens, T; Buscot, F; Chen, XY; Chesters, D; Ding, BY; Durka, W; Erfmeier, A; Fang, J; Fischer, M; Guo, LD; Guo, D; Gutknecht, JLM; He, JS; He, CL; Hector, A; Hoenig, L; Hu, RY; Klein, AM; Kuehn, P; Liang, Y; Li, S; Michalski, S; Scherer-Lorenzen, M; Schmidt, K; Scholten, T; Schuldt, A; Shi, X; Tan, MZ; Tang, Z; Trogisch, S; Wang, Z; Welk, E; Wirth, C; Wubet, T; Xiang, W; Yu, M; Yu, XD; Zhang, J; Zhang, S; Zhang, N; Zhou, HZ; Zhu, CD; Zhu, L; Bruelheide, H; Ma, K; Niklaus, PA; Schmid, B
    SCIENCE, 362 (6410):80-+; SI 10.1126/science.aat6405 OCT 5 2018
  • Genetic differentiation, phenotypic plasticity and adaptation in a hybridizing pair of a more common and a less common Carex species
    Schmidt, L; Schmid, B; Oja, T; Fischer, M
    ALPINE BOTANY, 128 (2):149-167; 10.1007/s00035-018-0211-8 OCT 2018
  • Functional groups differ in trait means, but not in trait plasticity to species richness in local grassland communities
    Roscher, C; Schumacher, J; Lipowsky, A; Gubsch, M; Weigelt, A; Schmid, B; Buchmann, N; Schulze, ED
    ECOLOGY, 99 (10):2295-2307; 10.1002/ecy.2447 OCT 2018
  • Global leaf nitrogen and phosphorus stoichiometry and their scaling exponent
    Tian, D; Yan, ZB; Niklas, KJ; Han, WX; Kattge, J; Reich, PB; Luo, YK; Chen, YH; Tang, ZY; Hu, HF; Wright, IJ; Schmid, B; Fang, JY
    NATIONAL SCIENCE REVIEW Volume: 5 Issue: 5 Pages: 728-739 DOI: 10.1093/nsr/nwx142 Published: SEP 2018
  • Surrounding species diversity improves subtropical seedlings' carbon dynamics
    Salmon, YZ; Li, XF; Yang, B; Ma, KP; Siegwolf, RTW; Schmid, B
    ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 8 (14):7055-7067; 10.1002/ece3.4225 JUL 2018
  • Tree species richness increases ecosystem carbon storage in subtropical forests
    Liu, XJ; Trogisch, S; He, JS; Niklaus, PA; Bruelheide, H; Tang, ZY; Erfmeier, A; Scherer-Lorenzen, M; Pietsch, KA; Yang, B; Kuhn, P; Scholten, T; Huang, YY; Wang, C; Staab, M; Leppert, KN; Wirth, C; Schmid, B; Ma, KP
    PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 285 (1885):10.1098/rspb.2018.1240 AUG 29 2018
  • Interspecific trait differences rather than intraspecific trait variation increase the extent and filling of community trait space with increasing plant diversity in experimental grasslands
    Roscher, C; Schumacher, J; Gubsch, M; Lipowsky, A; Weigelt, A; Buchmann, N; Schulze, ED; Schmid, B
    PERSPECTIVES IN PLANT ECOLOGY EVOLUTION AND SYSTEMATICS, 33 42-50; 10.1016/j.ppees.2018.05.001 AUG 2018
  • Soil microbes promote complementarity effects among co-existing trees through soil nitrogen partitioning
    Luo, S; Schmid, B; De Deyn, GB; Yu, SX
    FUNCTIONAL ECOLOGY, 32 (7):1879-1889; 10.1111/1365-2435.13109 JUL 2018
  • Trait means, trait plasticity and trait differences to other species jointly explain species performances in grasslands of varying diversity
    Roscher, C; Gubsch, M; Lipowsky, A; Schumacher, J; Weigelt, A; Buchmann, N; Schulze, ED; Schmid, B
    OIKOS, 127 (6):855-865; 10.1111/oik.04815 JUN 2018
  • The Nagoya Protocol could backfire on the Global South
    Deplazes-Zemp, A; Abiven, S; Schaber, P; Schaepman, M; Schaepman-Strub, G; Schmid, B; Shimizu, KK; Altermatt, F
    NATURE ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION, 2 (6):917-919; 10.1038/s41559-018-0561-z JUN 2018
  • Quantifying effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning across times and places
    Isbell, F; Cowles, J; Dee, LE; Loreau, M; Reich, PB; Gonzalez, A; Hector, A; Schmid, B
    ECOLOGY LETTERS, 21 (6):763-778; 10.1111/ele.12928 JUN 2018
  • Origin context of trait data matters for predictions of community performance in a grassland biodiversity experiment
    Roscher, C; Schumacher, J; Gubsch, M; Lipowsky, A; Weigelt, A; Buchmann, N; Schmid, B; Schulze, ED
    ECOLOGY, 99 (5):1214-1226; MAY 2018
  • Biodiversity-multifunctionality relationships depend on identity and number of measured functions 
    Meyer, Sebastian T.; Ptacnik, Robert; Hillebrand, Helmut; et al. 
    Source: NATURE ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION, 2 (1): 44-49; JAN 2018
  • Shifting relative importance of climatic constraints on land surface phenology 
    Garonna, Irene; de Jong, Rogier; Stockli, Reto; et al. 
Bernhard Schmid

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

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