Plant Physiological Ecology Group
The focus of the Plant Physiological Ecology & Biogeochemistry research group is on climate change effects and anthropogenic impact on organisms, plant physiological and biogeochemical processes in natural and semi-natural ecosystems, mainly in the temperate and arctic zone.
The fields of research are within general and physiological ecology in terrestrial systems, including interactions between the ecosystem components, and the biodiversity of soil organisms and plants. Major approaches include investigation of plant physiological and biogeochemical responses to natural environmental variation and to global and regional environmental changes and disturbances (e.g. climate change, UV-B radiation and land use). We also study the interactions between aboveground processes such as photosynthesis, the relation to tissue chemistry, and to belowground processes, such as nutrient mineralisation and uptake by plants. The main approach of the research is experimental and generally has a process as well as an organism/population component. It spans over a hierarchy of temporal and spatial levels such as studies of
- use of stable isotopes in ecology
- gas exchange at leaf and whole plant level
- nutrient mineralisation, plant nutrient uptake and soil-microbe-plant-interactions
- nitrogen flow and carbon cycling, at community, ecosystem and landscape level
The research takes place in arctic and temperate ecosystem types. The group is using the facilities in the Ecological-Chemical Laboratory, the Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry and the Ecophysiology Laboratory. Field work takes place in Denmark, Sweden (Abisko), Greenland (Zackenberg, Disko), and elsewhere.
CENPERM - Center for Permafrost (2012-2022)
Center for Permafrost, CENPERM is funded with100 mio. DKK by Danish National Research Foundation (Danmarks Grundforskningsfond) and investigates the interactions between microorganisms, soil and plants in relation to permafrost dynamics and trace gas emission. The Center is a close collaboration between Dept. of Geosciences and Dept. of Biology at University of Copenhagen.
The group has also funding from EU Marie Curie (2018-2020), Carlsberg Foundation (2020-2021) and DFF-FNU (2020-2023)
The group teaches in the courses:
- Arctic biology
- General ecology
- Experimental design and statistical analysis in biology
- Biological experiments: design and analysis
- Experimental design and methodology in ecology
- Methodology and sampling in environmental management
- Plant ecophysiology
- Terrestrial ecosystem processes and global change
The Ecological-Chemical Laboratory carries out high precision physical and chemical analyses of soils, plants, gases and liquids. The laboratory is fully updated in analytical equipment and takes on analytical tasks for the scientific staff at the Dept. of Biology as well as for external reseachers. For instance we analyze:
Plant species composition
Elements as C,N, P and heavy metals in soil, plants and liquids
Secondary metabolites as tannins and flavonoids
15N og 13C natural abundance and enrichment
Photosynthesis with Licor 6400XT
CH4, CO2 and BVOC
Microbial biomass CNP
Ergosterol, PLFA, Biolog plates
Screening for mycorrhiza fungi
The analytical equipment includes
Hitachi U-2000 and U-2010 Spectrophotometers
Shimadzu Total Organic Carbon Analyzer TOC/TN
Perkin Elmer Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer
Shimadzu GC-17A Gas Chromatograph
Fiastar 5000 Flow Analyzer
LECO TruSpec Carbon Nitrogen Determinator
Eltra CS 500 Total Carbon Determinator
Aquatec 5400 Analyzer
EuroVector Elemental Analyzer EA3028-HT
Micromass IsoPrime Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometre
Agilent GC/MS with thermal desorption
Picarro isotopic greenhouse gas analyser
Current and future M.Sc/PhD/post doc projects may address questions as
- Does permafrost thaw lead to enhanced nutrient availability and plant N uptake?
- How far does ammonia emission from farms affect plants and sensitive ecosystems?
- Does climate change affect microbial and plant uptake of nitrogen?
- What is the role of ericoid and ectomycorrhizal fungi for carbon balance in northern ecosystems?
- Will arctic and danish heath ecosystems be future sources or sinks for CO2?
- Is more methane emitted from plants, soil and litter when temperatures increase?
- To which extent does N2 fixation by microorganisms associated with plants lead to nitrogen enrichment in other ecosystem compartments?
Please contact Anders Michelsen for discussion of possible projects.
Loss of CO2 from subarctic heath ecosystem under climate change treatment
Results on ecosystem CO2 fluxes measured through the whole year in plots in subarctic heath exposed to 13 years of increased summer temperature and leaf litter addition have been published in Plant and Soil, and the study is highlighted on the front cover of the November 2019 issue of the Journal. Read the press release
Field work in the Arctic
Please contact Anders Michelsen for discussion of possible projects. These could involve vegetation analysis, and investigation of plant physiological and soil microbial responses, and greenhouse gas emission responses to environmental changes, including climate change.