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uni'wissen 01-2015

Prof. Dr. Friederike Lang studied earth ecology at the University of Bayreuth, earned her PhD in Hohen- heim, and completed her habilitation at the Technical University of Berlin in 2009. She then conducted research there on a Heisenberg Fellowship, before being appointed to the chair of soil ecology in Freiburg. Her research group studies forest nutrition, gas exchange in forest soil, the ecology of soil structure, mineral-organic interactions in soil, soil con- servation, and mechanized forestry management – with an emphasis on the sustain- able use of soils and forests. She is director of the priority program “Ecosystem Nutrition: Forest Strategies for Limited Phosphorus Resources,” vice president of the German Soil Science Society, and a member of the German govern- ment’s scientific advisory board on forest policy. in the forest after burning is only of limited utility, particularly against the background of nutrient recycling: The phosphorus is then mineral-bound and difficult to access, especially for plants on poor sites that would otherwise obtain it from or- ganic material. In addition, the ecosystem cannot take in large amounts fast enough and some of the nutrients are washed away again. Biomass allowed to rot in the forest, on the other hand, decomposes slowly – the nutrients are released and absorbed simultaneously. It thus seems questionable whether the full-tree harvest meth- od is sustainable and ecologically prudent. The team also hopes the findings of the project will prove useful for agriculture: “We want to determine which components and interactions of an ecosystem enable a closed phosphorus cycle,” says Lang. “If it were possible to transfer recy- cling strategies to agricultural land, we could save a lot of phosphorus fertilizer in the future – and at the same time we could avoid an environ- mentally harmful loss of phosphorus on agricultural land.” Further Reading Vitousek, P. M. / Porder, S. / Houlton, B. Z. / Chadwick, O. A. (2010): Terrestrial phosphorus limitation: mechanisms, implica- tions, and nitrogen-phosphorus interactions. In: Ecological Applications 20/1, pp. 5–15. Rennenberg, H. / Herschbach, C. (2013): Phosphorus nutrition of woody plants: many questions – few answers. In: Plant Biology 15/5, pp. 785–788. Leue, M. / Lang, F. (2012): Recycling soil nutrients from channel deposits? In: Nutrient cycling in agroecosystems 93/1, pp. 75–88. Jaane Krüger studied technical environ- mental protection at the Technical University of Berlin. After completing her degree in 2007, she stayed on in Berlin as a research assistant in soil science. Since 2012 she has served as a research assistant at the Department of Soil Ecology of the Univer- sity of Freiburg. Her research interests include the binding and mobility of nutrients and pollutants in soil. She coor- dinates the priority program “Ecosystem Nutrition: Forest Strategies for Limited Phos- phorus Resources” and is writing a dissertation on organic pollutants and micro- aggregates in soil. Photos: Thomas Kunz Roots enable the soil particles to form aggregates, between which pores form. The research team hypothesizes that plants direct the flow of nutrients in the soil in this way. Photos: Simon Stahr/Jörg Grüner, Department of Soil Ecology uni wissen 01 2015 39 uni wissen 01201539