We will quantify belowground multidimensional niche differentiation and overlap among co-occurring species to study resource use complementarity, which is thought to be one major mechanism for positive biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships.
Such complementarity may occur if plants partition their resources when growing in mixtures, leading to reduced niche overlap.
We will study belowground interactions by detailed measurements of root distribution based on classical root coring and innovative molecular species identification, combined with state-of-the-art isotopic and non-isotopic tracer applications to quantify root activity patterns in space and time. The study will use all plots of the Jena Experiment, as well as the environmentally controlled model systems (Montpellier Ecotron Experiment). In addition, mesocosm experiments will yield detailed information on species-specific root traits and belowground competitive intensity.