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International Symposium 2018

Earth Surface Shaping by Biotic Processes


21.02.2018 - 24.02.2018 in Halle (Saale), Germany

In this symposium international speakers will review how organisms not only respond to the Earth’s surface, but also directly modify and control it to promote their own persistence. Plants and animals can directly control the fluxes of energy and matter that underlie biogeochemical cycles, gas fluxes, sediment transport and form new habitats. Recent recognition of biotic interactions with Earth surface processes has led to a new Geoscience paradigm: The Earth’s surface is not only the product of tectonic forces (mountain building) and climate (destroying relief by weathering and erosion), but also through biotic processes that are active over micro- to macroscopic scales. Biota moderates tectonic and climate controls on surface processes and is an equally important player in shaping the Earth.

This symposium will review the findings that triggered this paradigm shift, for example that 1) the activity of biota extends to great depth (the “deep biosphere”); 2) soil development is related to plant diversity and burrowing animals; 3) plants diverge the flow and evaporation of water; 4) higher plants can induce the uptake of mineral nutrients that vastly exceeds the rock weathering of these elements; 5) vegetation moderates soil erosion; 6) large river floodplains are stabilized by plants.

The symposium will combine geoscience, soil, ecology, hydrology, and geobiology research to discuss how new developments in each of these fields should be employed to quantify the entire chain of Earth surface processes influenced by biotic activities, and how these developments can be used to form predictions of global change.


List of invited Speakers:

Steeve Bonneville (Univ. Libre de Bruxelles): Bioweathering in soils: mechanism and quantification at the nanometer-scale

Susan L. Brantley (Pennsylvania State Univ., USA): Biotic influences on rock weathering

William E. Dietrich (Univ. of California, Berkeley, USA): Geomorphic transport laws, biotic processes, and landscape evolution

Ying Fan  (Rutgers Univ., USA): Deep roots, hydrologic plumbing, and habitat expansion by and for land plants

Dror Hawlena (Hebrew Univ., Jerusalem): Predation and ecosystem nutrient dynamics

Marcel van der Heijden (Univ. Zürich, Switzerland): Peeking into the underground: soil functional diversity drives ecosystem multifunctionality

Thomas Hickler (Senckenberg, Frankfurt, Germany): Modeling vegetation dynamics and ecosystem functioning across scales and from deep time into the future

Steve Holbrook  (VirginiaTech, USA): Fracturing, chemical weathering and strain in the critical zone: insights from drilling, sampling and geophysics

Erkan Istanbulluoglu (Univ. of Washington, USA): The biotic influence on sediment transport and catchment morphology

Kate Maher (Stanford Univ. USA): Does ecosystem nutrient demand control rock weathering? A modeling analysis

Bernhard Schmid (Univ. of Zürich, Switzerland): Biodiversity effects across scales

Detlef Schulze (MPI Biogeochem., Jena, Germany): Management der globalen Biosphäre zur Begrenzung des Klimawandels

Alexia Stokes (INRA France): Slippery when wet: surprising strategies of vegetation growing on unstable slopes

Veerle Vanacker (Catholic Univ. of Louvain, Belgium): Vegetation control on soil and sediment fluxes


Symposium Organizers and speakers:

Friedhelm von Blanckenburg (GFZ, Potsdam): Uplifted, recycled, eroded. Metal isotope budgeting the plant mineral nutrient balance

Todd Ehlers (Univ. Tübingen, Germany): Deciphering Vegetation, Climate, and Tectonic Controls on Catchment Denudation, Western South America

Katja Tielbörger (Univ. Tübingen, Germany): Bridging scales in geo-ecological research: can space substitute for time?

Jörg Bendix (Univ. Marburg, Germany): Remote sensing of ecosystem properties and biodiversity


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