NaBEF (China)

The NaBEF (Nutrient addition and Biodiversity Ecosystem Function) experiment was established in January 2019, representing the tropical-subtropical forest ecotone in southern China. The main goals of NaBEF are (1) to examine the species diversity effect on a variety of ecosystem functions and (2) explore how nitrogen and phosphorus addition might affect the relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

satellite photo NaBEF
satellite photo NaBEF
Location of the NaBEF site and aerial view of NaBEF from 600 m above (July 2022)


The NaBEF contains thirty-two tree species according to their shade and drought tolerance. In total, 299 plots of 12 × 12 m were arranged in a randomized factorial design, with species richness level ranging from 1, 4, 8, 16, to 32 species. Nutrient addition treatments include nitrogen addition(+N); Phosphorus addition(+P); Nitrogen and Phosphorus addition(+NP) with a dose of 50, 50, 50+50 kg ha-1 yr-1, respectively; The nutrient treatments were applied to a gradient of species diversity from 1, 4, 8, and 16, with each treatment combination randomly replicated. The nutrient treatments were applied beginning in the spring of 2020. In each plot, 256 trees were planted within at a distance of 0.75 m and a certain number of seedlings were planted outside the plots. In total, 80,000 trees were planted.

design NaBEF experiment
Layout of the NaBEF experiment.

Site characteristics

location Baisha, Shanghang, Longyan, Fuijian (N 25° 06' 52.6" E 116° 31' 48.6")
former land use Cunninghamia lancelotata (Lamb. Hook) plantation
altitude 500 m
soil type Ultisol
area 14 ha
no of plots 299
plot size 144 m²
no of trees planted 76544
planting date 2019
diversity variables species richness, functional diversity (shade and drought tolerance)
diversity gradient 0, 1, 4, 8, 16, 32 sp.
size species pool 32
species pool Acer palmatum; Alnus trabeculosa; Castanopsis carlesii; Castanopsis fissa; Castanopsis hystrix; Castanopsis sclerophylla; Celtis sinensis; Cinnamomum camphora; Cryptomeria fortune; Cunninghamia lanceolate; Cyclocarya paliurus; Elaeocarpus sylvestris; Euscaphis japonica; Fokienia hodginsii; Hovenia acerba; Lagerstroemia indica; Liquidambar formosana; Lithocarpus glaber; Machilus pauhoi; Manglietia fordiana; Michelia macclurei; Michelia maudiae; Mytilaria laosensis; Ormosia hosiei; Osmanthus fragrans; Phoebe chekiangensis; Phoebe bournei; Pinus massoniana; Quercus variabilis; Sapindus saponaria; Schima superba; Taxus wallichiana
tree-to-tree planting distance 75 cm
within plot planting design triangular design (maximize interspecific competition among traits and species)
additional treatments Nitrogen addition; Phosphorus addition; Nitrogen and Phosphorus addition
additional design info Nutrient addition covers richness from 1 to 16
contact persons Zhiqun Huang


NaBEF studies the effects of species richness on a variety of ecosystem functions such as primary productivity, nutrient and water cycling, litter decomposition, greenhouses gases emissions, soil biota and other trophic groups. Measurements will be repeatedly taken, depending on the subjects investigated.

Extra information

For more information on the NaBEF experiment, send an e-mail to the contact person or explore the publications.

  • Wan X, Joly F-X, Jia H, Zhu M, Fu Y, Huang Z (2023) Functional identity drives tree species richness-induced increases in litterfall production and forest floor mass in young tree communities. New Phytologist 240(3): 1003-1014

NaBEF site pictures
View from the NaBEF site (2021 - 2023)