Nitrogen nutrition of beech forests in a changing climate: importance of plant-soil-microbe water, carbon, and nitrogen interactions

Simon, J., et al., 2017. Plant and Soil

Original research (primary data)
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For 15+ years, a beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) dominated forest on calcareous soil was studied on two opposing slopes with contrasting microclimate in Tuttlingen, Swabian Alb, Germany. The cool-humid NE aspect of these slopes represents the majority of beech forests under current climate, the warmer and drier SW aspect represents beech forests under future climate conditions. The field studies were supplemented by investigations under controlled conditions. The research program aimed to provide a comprehensive understanding of plant-soil-microbe water, carbon and nitrogen feedbacks in a changing climate and a holistic view of the sensitivity of beech to climate change. The results of comparative and experimental studies underpin the high vulnerability of adult beech and its natural regeneration on calcareous soil to both direct climate change effects on plant physiology and indirect effects mediated by soil biogeochemical cycles. Mechanisms contributing to this vulnerability at the ecosystem and organismic level indicate a high significance of competitive interactions of beech with other vegetation components and soil microbial communities. Obvious forest management practices such as selective felling did not necessarily counteract negative effects of climate change.

Case studies

Basic information

  • Case ID: INT-080-1
  • Intervention type: Management
  • Intervention description:

    two silvicultural thinning treatments: reduced BA to 15 m−1 ha−1 and 10 m−1 ha−1, respectively

  • Landscape/sea scape ecosystem management: No
  • Climate change impacts Effect of Nbs on CCI Effect measures
    Loss of timber production  Unclear results adult tree radial stem growth growth of seedlings
  • Approach implemented in the field: Yes
  • Specific location:

    The Tuttlingen beech forest research site is located in southern Germany, approx. 100 km south-south-west from Stuttgart at 8°40′E 48°00′N. The site is part of the low mountain range of the Swabian Jura

  • Country: Germany
  • Habitat/Biome type: Temperate forests |
  • Issue specific term: Not applicable


  • Notes on intervention effectivness: effectiveness of intervention (thinning) evaluated by comparing to untreated control plots (no thinning) results of effectiveness are unclear because although outcomes of the different measures are mixed (positive effect on adult trees, negative effect on seedlings) the authors do not state what the overall outcome on productivity of the forest may be based on these results Coded as not original assessment because - it is a review of a research program consisting of studies & data (field experiments and investigations); this article brings these together to provide a comprehensive, novel analysis.
  • Is the assessment original?: No
  • Broadtype of intervention considered: Not applicable
  • Compare effectivness?: No
  • Compared to the non-NBS approach: Not applicable
  • Report greenhouse gas mitigation?: No
  • Impacts on GHG: Not applicable
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on natural ecosystems: No
  • Impacts for the ecosystem: Not reported
  • Ecosystem measures:
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on people: No
  • Impacts for people: Not reported
  • People measures:
  • Considers economic costs: No
  • Economic appraisal conducted: No
  • Economic appraisal described:
  • Economic costs of alternative considered: No
  • Compared to an alternative: Not reported

Evaluation methodology

  • Type of data: Quantitative
  • Is it experimental: Yes
  • Experimental evalution done: In-situ/field
  • Non-experimental evalution done: Not applicable
  • Study is systematic: