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Project A3 (phase I):

Vegetation induced landscape formation through below-ground carbon and nutrient fluxes.


Investigator Names and Contact Info:

  • Sandra Spielvogel (Soil Science, Physical Geography). Institute of Geography, Working Group of Soil Science, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • Michaela Dippold (Biogeochemistry, Soil Science). Agricultural Soil Science, Georg-August-University Goettingen, Germany


Chilean Collaborators Involved:

  • Francisco J. Matus B.. Universidad de la Frontera, Temuco, Chile
  • Roberto Godoy. Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Instituto de Ciencias Ambientales y Evolutivas, Chile
  • Carolina Merino (Biogeochemistry, Microbiology, Enzymology). Universidad de la Frontera, Temuco, Chile


Impact of root exudates on mineral weathering and speciation.



  • Moritz Koester. Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Switzerland

Supervisor: Prof. Sandra Spielvogel, Co-Supervisor: Dr. Michaela Dippold




Differences in the mobilization of P by microorganisms along a climatic gradient.



  • Yue Hu. Agricultural Soil Science, Georg-August-University Goettingen, Germany

Supervisor: Dr. Michaela Dippold



Project Summary:

Plants and their associated microbial community (including mycorrhizal fungi) are supposed to be main drivers of mineral weathering for the purpose of nutrient acquisition from primary and secondary minerals, ranging from the slope over the profile to the mineral surface scale. They increase intensity and spatial heterogeneity of physical and chemical rock weathering to meet their nutrient demand via direct nutrient acquisition and/or nutrient acquisition by symbionts. On the other hand, plants reduce nutrient relocation as they stabilize soil structure thus protecting soil from erosion. This proposal aims to study (i) the quantitative control of plant diversity and root architecture as well asdiversity on the redistribution (plant induced uplift, cycling, translocation and leaching) of nutrients (C, N, P, K, Ca, Mg) at the hillslope scale, (ii) to analyze how the studied nutrient cycles are linked to rock weathering status and (iii) to reconstruct plant induced landscape formation and paleoclimate interactions by linking the analyzed weathering processes under present vegetation to paleo-environmental conditions. To reach those goals, this study will combine high resolution nutrient budgeting with enzyme analyses, stable isotope techniques,and molecular biomarker measurements at sites located at the EarthShape study areas Pargue National La CampaƱa, Parque Nacional Nahuelbuta and Parque Nacional Robleria del Cobre de Loncha as well as in samples derived from local archives (e.g. sediment cores, peat deposits).From this we expect a deeper knowledge about plant-induced landscape formation and mineral weathering over different spatial and temporal scales and a scale-spanning mechanistic understanding of plant-driven nutrient cycling in different climatic regions.