MyDiv (Germany)

MyDiv stands for Mycorrhizae in tree Diversity effects on ecosystem functioning and trophic interactions. It is a tree diversity experiment planted in Bad Lauchstädt (near Halle, Central Germany) in March 2015. The experiment aims to investigate the significance of aboveground-belowground interactions in tree diversity effects on ecosystem functioning. More specifically, the effects of different mycorrhizal associations on a variety of ecosystem functions and soil food webs are studied.

photo of the MyDiv experiment photo of the MyDiv experiment
Planting of the MyDiv site in March 2015 and the site in June 2016


The experiment comprises ten native angiosperm tree species: five that develop associations with arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) and five that develop associations with ectomycorrhiza (EM). Tree species selection aimed at achieving the highest functional similarity between the two pools with regard to tree height, wood density, specific leaf area, seed mass, leaf C:N ratio, and leaf-out date.
The species were planted in monocultures, 2-species, and 4-species mixtures. At each of the tree diversity levels, communities with only AM, with only EM, or with mixtures of both tree species pools were established. The treatments were randomly distributed within two blocks. The experimental design followed the broken-stick model ending up in five different species combinations per block in all treatments. As the species pool contained more species (5 species) than the highest diversity level (4 species), it is possible to test tree diversity effects without confounding effects of compositional similarity at high tree diversity.
Each plot consists of 140 tree individuals with a planting distance of 1 m. Tree individuals of 2- and 4-species mixtures were planted in a regular distribution pattern with each species being represented in the same proportion. All plots are covered with black water-permeable polypropylene tarp to reduce competition with weeds and the establishment of rodent habitats; the black tarp will be removed after the successful establishment of the experimental plots.

plots of MyDiv
The MyDiv site at the Bad Lauchstädt Experimental Research Station of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
80 plots on 1.9 hectares, with AM Arbuscular Mycorrhiza, EM Ectomycorrhiza, Both both mycorrhizal types
Aerial photograph: © 2017 Google, Map data © 2017 GeoBasis-DE/BKG (©2009)

Site characteristics

location Bad Lauchstädt
former land use agriculture
altitude 115 m
soil type Haplic Chernozem developed from Loess (WRB)
area 1.9 ha
no of plots 80
plot size 11 m x 11 m
no of trees planted 11 200
planting date March 2015
diversity variables species richness
mycorrhizal type
diversity gradient 1, 2, 4 sp.
AM, EM, AM+EM trees
size species pool 10
species pool AM species: Acer pseudoplatanus, Aesculus hippocastanum,
Fraxinus excelsior, Prunus avium, Sorbus aucuparia
EM species: Betula pendula, Carpinus betulus, Fagus sylvatica,
Quercus petraea, Tilia platyphyllos
contact persons Olga Ferlian, Nico Eisenhauer

Mycorrhizae play a critical role in plant nutrient and water uptake from soil and, consequently, in the plants' competitive capabilities as well as in nutrient cycling of the whole system. The positive relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning can be mainly attributed to the complementary use of soil resources. The type of mycorrhizal association may, therefore, affect complementarity among plant species.
In MyDiv, we test how biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships differ among tree communities of different mycorrhizal types. We expect tree communities of high species richness and with both mycorrhizal types to have the strongest biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationship. Furthermore, mycorrhizal fungi serve as an important food source for the belowground fauna. However, the roles of the two major mycorrhizal types within the soil food web are still poorly understood.

The main studies will focus on the effects on tree growth and mortality, primary productivity, carbon sequestration, and nutrient cycling as well as on trophic interactions in soil including diversity and structure of soil microbial and soil fauna communities.

Extra information
Send an e-mail to the contact persons, visit the experiment's own website, or explore the publications.

  • Ferlian O, Lintzel E-M, Bruelheide H, Guerra CA, Heklau H, Jurburg S, Kühn P, Martinez-Medina A, Unsicker SB, Eisenhauer N, Schädler M (2020) Nutrient status not secondary metabolites drives herbivory and pathogen infestation across differently mycorrhized tree monocultures and mixtures. Basic and Applied Ecology, 55: 110-123 -
  • Poeydebat C, Jactel H, Moreira X, Koricheva J, Barsoum N, Bauhus J, Eisenhauer N, Ferlian O, Francisco M, Gottschall F, Gravel D, Mason B, Muiruri E, Muys B, Nock C, Paquette A, Ponette Q, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Stokes V, Staab M, Verheyen K, Castagneyrol B (2020) Climate affects neighbour-induced changes in leaf chemical defences and tree diversity-herbivory relationships. Functional Ecology - doi:10.1111/1365-2435.13700
  • Djukic I, Kepfer-Rojas S, Kappel Schmidt I, Steenberg Larsen K, Beier C, Berg B, Verheyen K, TeaComposition (2018) Early stage litter decomposition across biomes. Science of the Total Environment
  • Ferlian O, Cesarz S, Craven D, Hines J, Barry KE, Bruelheide H, Buscot F, Haider S, Heklau H, Herrmann S, Kühn P, Pruschitzki U, Schädler M, Wagg C, Weigelt A, Wubet T, Eisenhauer N (2018) Mycorrhiza in tree diversity-ecosystem function relationships: conceptual framework and experimental implementation. Ecosphere 9:e02226 - doi: 10.1002/ecs2.2226
  • Grossman JJ, Vanhellemont M, Barsoum N, Bauhus J, Bruelheide H, Castagneyrol B, Cavender-Bares J, Eisenhauer N, Ferlian O, Gravel D, Hector A, Jactel H, Kreft H, Mereu S, Messier C, Muys B, Nock C, Paquette A, Parker J, Perring MP, Ponette Q, Reich PB, Schuldt A, Staab M, Weih M, Zemp DC, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Verheyen K (2018) Synthesis and future research directions linking tree diversity to growth, survival, and damage in a global network of tree diversity experiments. Environmental and Experimental Botany, 152, 68-69 - 10.1016/j.envexpbot.2017.12.015
  • Paquette A, Hector A, Castagneyrol B, Vanhellemont M, Koricheva J, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Verheyen K, TreeDivNet (2018) A million and more trees for science. Nature Ecology & Evolution 2: 763-766 - doi: 10.1038/s41559-018-0544-0
  • Ferlian O, Biere A, Bonfante P, Buscot F, Eisenhauer N, Fernandez I, Hause B, Herrmann S, Krajinski-Barth F, Meier I C, Pozo M J, Rasmann S, Rillig M C, Tarkka M T, van Dam N M, Wagg C, Martinez-Medina A (2018) Growing Research Networks on Mycorrhizae for Mutual Benefits. Trends in Plant Science, 23(11):975-984 -
photo of the MyDiv experiment
Birch plot in January 2018