Christian Wirth

Christian Wirth
University of Leipzig · Institute of Biology

Professor

About

316
Publications
156,831
Reads
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20,517
Citations
Additional affiliations
October 2012 - present
January 2012 - present
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry Jena
Position
  • Max-Planck Research Fellow
October 2009 - present
Botanical Garden of Leipzig University
Position
  • Managing Director

Publications

Publications (316)
Article
In a context of accelerated human-induced biodiversity loss, remote sensing (RS) is emerging as a promising tool to map plant biodiversity from space. Proposed approaches often rely on the Spectral Variation Hypothesis (SVH), linking the heterogeneity of terrestrial vegetation to the variability of the spectroradiometric signals. Yet, due to observ...
Article
Full-text available
Biodiversity drives the maintenance and stability of ecosystem functioning as well as many of nature’s benefits to people, yet people cause substantial biodiversity change. Despite broad consensus about a positive relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF), the underlying mechanisms and their context-dependencies are not well...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Intensifying climate change is successively increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme climate events such as droughts. In 2018–2019, Central European forests were hit by two consecutive hotter drought years that were unprecedented in their severity at least in the last 250 years. Such hotter droughts, where drought coincides with a heat wav...
Preprint
Full-text available
Tree canopies are considered to effectively buffer climate extremes and to mitigate climate change effects. Droughts, which are predicted to become more frequent in the course of climate change, might alter the microclimatic cooling potential of trees. However, our understanding of how microclimate at the tree canopy level is modulated by environme...
Article
Full-text available
Forest canopies are complex and highly diverse environments. Their diversity is affected by pronounced gradients in abiotic and biotic conditions, including variation in leaf chemistry. We hypothesised that branch-localised defence induction and vertical stratification in mature oaks constitute sources of chemical variation that extend across troph...
Data
To characterize the canopy volume of the grassland community, we calculated volume based on the voxelization technique. Hence, for each scanned plot, a voxel grid with a resolution of 5 cm was created, and the volume was then calculated as the product of the cell area and the attributed height. Further, we split scanned plots based on the voxel gri...
Data
We performed a non-destructive measurement of plant community canopy structure and for that we used a terrestrial laser scanner (TLS). We calculate voxel grids of the 3D point clouds we used the function ‘vox’ from the R package VoxR. Volume calculation based on voxel grid generate the variables evenness and center of gravity. To calculate canopy v...
Article
Full-text available
1. Organisms of all species must balance their allocation to growth, survival and recruitment. Among tree species, evolution has resulted in different life‐history strategies for partitioning resources to these key demographic processes. Life‐history strategies in tropical forests have often been shown to align along a trade‐off between fast growth...
Article
Full-text available
Increasing plant diversity commonly enhances standing biomass and other ecosystem functions (i.e., carbon fluxes, water use efficiency, herbivory). The standing biomass is correlated with vegetation volume, which describes plant biomass allocation within a complex canopy structure. As the canopy structure of plant communities is not static througho...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The positive relationship between plant species richness and plant productivity is supposed to be driven by complementarity effects. Based on annual measurements, long-term biodiversity experiments support complementary effects and reveal their strengthening with maturity of the plant communities. However, we still lack information on if and how th...
Article
Full-text available
Droughts increasingly threaten the world's forests and their potential to mitigate climate change. In 2018–2019, Central European forests were hit by two consecutive hotter drought years, an unprecedented phenomenon that is likely to occur more frequently with climate change. Here, we examine tree growth and physiological stress responses (increase...
Article
Over the last 40 years, a growing number of restoration projects have been implemented to improve the ecological conditions of highly degraded rivers and their floodplains. Despite considerable investment in these projects, information is still limited about the effectiveness and the success of such river restoration measures, mainly due to a lack...
Article
The majority of rivers in Europe have been dramatically altered in terms of their morphology and hydrology with severe consequences for the diversity and ecological functioning of the rivers and their floodplains. Consequently, an increasing number of river reaches have been restored over the past decades, often including the removal of bank fixati...
Article
Full-text available
Plant functional traits can predict community assembly and ecosystem functioning and are thus widely used in global models of vegetation dynamics and land–climate feedbacks. Still, we lack a global understanding of how land and climate affect plant traits. A previous global analysis of six traits observed two main axes of variation: (1) size variat...
Article
Full-text available
Extreme climatic events threaten forests and their climate mitigation potential globally. Understanding the drivers promoting ecosystem stability is therefore considered crucial for mitigating adverse climate change effects on forests. Here, we use structural equation models to explain how tree species richness, asynchronous species dynamics, speci...
Article
Full-text available
Sediment and nutrient retention are essential ecosystem functions that floodplains provide and that improve river water quality. During floods, the floodplain vegetation retains sediment, which settles on plant surfaces and the soil underneath plants. Both sedimentation processes require that flow velocity is reduced, which may be caused by the top...
Article
Full-text available
Various ecosystem functions provided by floodplains depend on a natural river activity and floodplain morphology. Therefore, anthropogenic alterations of rivers modify their flooding regimes and may affect the provisioning of numerous ecosystem functions. Restoration projects, which aim at reestablishing natural processes of floodplains, require a...
Article
Full-text available
National and local governments need to step up efforts to effectively implement the post‐2020 global biodiversity framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity to halt and reverse worsening biodiversity trends. Drawing on recent advances in interdisciplinary biodiversity science, we propose a framework for improved implementation by national...
Preprint
All species must balance their allocation to growth, survival and recruitment. Among trees, evolution has resulted in different strategies of partitioning resources to these key demographic processes, i.e. demographic trade-offs. It is unclear whether the same demographic trade-offs structure tropical forests worldwide. Here, we used data from 13 l...
Article
Full-text available
Tackling the accelerated human-induced biodiversity loss requires tools able to map biodiversity and its changes globally. Remote sensing (RS) offers unique capabilities of characterizing Earth surfaces; therefore, it could map plant biodiversity continuously and globally. This approach is supported by the Spectral Variation Hypothesis (SVH), which...
Preprint
All species must balance their allocation to growth, survival and recruitment. Among trees, evolution has resulted in different strategies of partitioning resources to these key demographic processes, i.e. demographic trade-offs. It is unclear whether the same demographic trade-offs structure tropical forests worldwide. Here, we used data from 13 l...
Article
Full-text available
Community composition is a primary determinant of how biodiversity change influences ecosystem functioning and, therefore, the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF). We examine the consequences of community composition across six structurally realistic plant community models. We find that a positive correlation between s...
Preprint
Full-text available
Sediment and nutrient retention are essential ecosystem functions that floodplains provide and that improve river water quality. During floods, the floodplain vegetation retains sediment, which settles on plant surfaces and the soil underneath plants. Both sedimentation processes require that flow velocity is reduced, which may be caused by the top...
Preprint
Full-text available
Community composition is a primary determinant of how biodiversity change influences ecosystem functioning and, therefore, the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF). We examine the consequences of community composition across six structurally realistic plant community models. We find that a positive correlation between s...
Article
Full-text available
During floods, sediments suspended in river water deposit on floodplains. Thus, floodplains are a key to improving river water quality. Yet, the factors that determine the amount of fine sediment that deposits on floodplains are largely unknown. Plant diversity typically increases structural diversity, while the vegetation structure and the structu...
Preprint
Across the globe, ecological communities are confronted with multiple global environmental change drivers, and they are responding in complex ways ranging from behavioural, physiological, and morphological changes within populations to changes in community composition and food web structure with consequences for ecosystem functioning. A better unde...
Article
Full-text available
Sediment retention is a key ecosystem function provided by floodplains to filter sediments and nutrients from the river water during floods. Floodplain vegetation is an important driver of fine sediment retention. We aim to understand which structural properties of the vegetation are most important for capturing sediments. In a hydraulic flume expe...
Preprint
Full-text available
Droughts increasingly threaten the world’s forests and their potential to mitigate climate change. In 2018-2019, Central European forests were hit by two consecutive hotter drought years, an unprecedented phenomenon that is likely to occur more frequently with climate change. Here, we examine tree growth and physiological stress responses (increase...
Article
Full-text available
Canopy structure is an important driver of the energy budget of grassland ecosystem and is, at the same time, altered by plant diversity. Diverse plant communities typically have taller and more densely packed canopies than less diverse communities. With this, they absorb more radiation, have a higher transpiring leaf surface and are better coupled...
Article
Full-text available
Deutsche Zusammenfassung: Der Leipziger Auwald ist ein streng geschützter Hartholzauenwald mit einer hohen und spezifischen Biodiversität. Diese verdankt er seiner langen Habitattradition, seinem Baumartenreichtum und seiner Nutzungsgeschichte. Flussregulierung und Deichbau in den 1930er Jahren haben das Gebiet entwässert und die notwendigen Überfl...
Article
Global change exposes forest ecosystems to many risks including novel climatic conditions, increased frequency of climatic extremes and sudden emergence and spread of pests and pathogens. At the same time, forest landscape restoration has regained global attention as an integral strategy for climate change mitigation. Owing to unpredictable future...
Article
Full-text available
1. Changes in phenology induced by climate change occur across the globe with important implications for ecosystem functioning and services, species performance and trophic interactions. Much of the work on phenology, especially leaf out and flowering, has been conducted on woody plant species. Less is known about the responses in phenology of herb...
Preprint
Full-text available
Extreme climatic events threaten forests and their climate mitigation potential globally. Understanding the drivers promoting ecosystems stability is therefore considered crucial to mitigate adverse climate change effects on forests. Here, we use structural equation models to explain how tree species richness, asynchronous species dynamics and dive...
Article
Full-text available
Canopy temperatures are important for understanding tree physiology, ecology, and their cooling potential, which provides a valuable ecosystem service, especially in urban environments. Linkages between tree species composition in forest stands and air temperatures remain challenging to quantify, as the establishment and maintenance of onsite senso...
Article
Full-text available
Earth is home to over 350,000 vascular plant species that differ in their traits in innumerable ways. A key challenge is to pre- dict how natural or anthropogenically driven changes in the identity, abundance and diversity of co-occurring plant species drive important ecosystem-level properties such as biomass production or carbon storage. Here, we...
Article
Full-text available
Despite conservation commitments, most countries still lack large-scale biodiversity monitoring programs to track progress toward agreed targets. Monitoring program design is frequently approached from a top-down, data-centric perspective that ignores the socio-cultural context of data collection. A rich landscape of people and organizations, with...
Article
Full-text available
1. Species range limits are thought to result from a decline in demographic performance at range edges. However, recent studies reporting contradictory patterns in species demographic performance at their edges cast doubt on our ability to predict climate change demographic impacts. To understand these inconsistent demographic responses, we need to...
Article
Full-text available
Plant functional diversity (FD) is an important component of biodiversity. Evidence shows that FD strongly determines ecosystem functioning and stability and also regulates various ecosystem services that underpin human well-being. Given the importance of FD, it is critical to monitor its variations in an explicit manner across space and time, a hi...
Article
Understanding tropical forest dynamics and planning for their sustainable management require efficient, yet accurate, predictions of the joint dynamics of hundreds of tree species. With increasing information on tropical tree life histories, our predictive understanding is no longer limited by species data but by the ability of existing models to m...
Article
Full-text available
Ensuring ecosystem resilience is an intuitive approach to safeguard the functioning of ecosystems and hence the future provisioning of ecosystem services (ES). However, resilience is a multi‐faceted concept that is difficult to operationalize. Focusing on resilience mechanisms, such as diversity, network architectures or adaptive capacity, has rece...
Poster
Full-text available
This poster shows that plant diversity controls the mean surface temperature of plant communities via vertical canopy structure while in August, horizontal canopy structure. Additionally, we won the 2019 Highly Commended Poster at the BES Conference.
Data
Supplementary Information to Kupers, S.J., Wirth, C., Engelbrecht, B.M.J. et al. Performance of tropical forest seedlings under shade and drought: an interspecific trade-off in demographic responses. Sci Rep 9, 18784 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41598-019-55256-x
Article
Full-text available
Seedlings in moist tropical forests must cope with deep shade and seasonal drought. However, the interspecific relationship between seedling performance in shade and drought remains unsettled. We quantified spatiotemporal variation in shade and drought in the seasonal moist tropical forest on Barro Colorado Island (BCI), Panama, and estimated respo...
Preprint
Full-text available
Earth is home to over 350,000 vascular plant species ¹ that differ in their traits in innumerable ways. Yet, a handful of functional traits can help explaining major differences among species in photosynthetic rate, growth rate, reproductive output and other aspects of plant performance 2–6 . A key challenge, coined “the Holy Grail” in ecology, is...
Article
Full-text available
Plant functional diversity (FD) is an important component of biodiversity that characterizes the variability of functional traits within a community, landscape, or even large spatial scales. It can influence ecosystem processes and stability. Hence, it is important to understand how and why FD varies within and between ecosystems, along resources a...
Preprint
Full-text available
Assessing vegetation feedbacks with the climate system and planning sustainable management in tropical forests requires efficient, yet accurate, predictions of the joint dynamics of hundreds of tree species. With increasing information on tropical tree life-histories, our predictive understanding is no longer limited by species data, but by the abi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Species range limits are thought to result from a decline in demographic performance at range edges. However, recent studies reporting contradictory patterns in species demographic performance at their edges cast doubt on our ability to predict climate change demographic impacts. To understand these inconsistent demographic responses at the edges,...
Article
Full-text available
The functioning and service provisioning of ecosystems in the face of anthropogenic environmental and biodiversity change is a cornerstone of ecological research. The last three decades of biodiversity–ecosystem functioning (BEF) research have provided compelling evidence for the significant positive role of biodiversity in the functioning of many...
Poster
The projected increase in frequency and intensity of droughts with climatic change threatens tree growth and survival. Tree ring and stable isotope analyses in temperate forests have shown that heterospecific tree neighbourhoods may improve water use and growth compared to conspecific ones, but also negative effects have been reported. Species-spec...
Article
Biodiversity often enhances ecosystem functioning likely due to multiple, often temporarily separated drivers. Yet, most studies are based on one or two snapshot measurements per year. We estimated productivity using bi-weekly estimates of high-resolution canopy height in 2 years with terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) in a grassland diversity experi...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Wood‐inhabiting fungi (WIF) are pivotal to wood decomposition, which in turn strongly influences nutrient dynamics in forest soils. However, their dispersal mechanisms remain unclear. We hypothesized that the majority of WIF are soil‐borne. For this reason, the presented research aimed to quantify the contribution of soil as a source and m...
Article
Full-text available
The study of biodiversity has grown exponentially in the last thirty years in response to demands for greater understanding of the function and importance of Earth's biodiversity and finding solutions to conserve it. Here, we test the hypothesis that biodiversity science has become more interdisciplinary over time. To do so, we analyze 97,945 peer‐...
Article
Full-text available
Humans modify ecosystems and biodiversity worldwide, with negative consequences for ecosystem functioning. Promoting plant diversity is increasingly suggested as a mitigation strategy. However, our mechanistic understanding of how plant diversity affects the diversity of heterotrophic consumer communities remains limited. Here, we disentangle the r...
Article
Full-text available
In the version of this Article originally published, the wrong Supplementary Information pdf was uploaded, in which the figures did not correspond with those mentioned in the main text and the R code was not presented properly. This has now been replaced.
Chapter
Full-text available
Concern about the functional consequences of unprecedented loss in biodiversity has prompted biodiversity-ecosystem functioning (BEF) research to become one of the most active fields of ecological research in the past 25 years. Hundreds of experiments have manipulated biodiversity as an independent variable and found compelling support that the fun...