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Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 46 | 16. August 2012
Priority Programme „Ecosystem Nutrition: Forest Strategies for Limited Phosphorous Resources” (SPP 1685)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has established a new Priority Programme entitled “Ecosystem Nutrition: Forest Strategies for Limited Phosphorous Resources” (SPP 1685). The programme will run for an initial period of three years and is extendable to six years.

This Priority Programme aims at launching the emerging scientific field of ecosystem nutrition thereby elucidating functional links between strategies of phosphor (P) nutrition, and speciation and allocation of P in soils. This call invites proposals from appropriate disciplines such as soil science, plant biology, microbiology, vegetation ecology and silviculture to unravel the ecological dimension of P efficiency and to design concepts and methods for ecosystem nutrition.

In the first three-year phase of funding the projects focus on testing the overall hypothesis that phosphorous depletion of soils turns forest ecosystems from P-acquiring systems (efficient mobilisation of P from primary and secondary minerals) into P-recycling systems (highly efficient cycling of P). The projects are expected to consider the influence of soil acidity, N supply, soil water content, or biomass removal on P dynamics. The Priority Programme is closely linked through common research at five core sites on carbonate free rock which represent a sequence of decreasing availability of mineral-bound P in soils. Experimental work is expected to take place on/use material from as much of these sites as possible. These studies will provide process knowledge, which are expected to be translated into proxies for P nutrition strategies. The viability of these proxies can be validated at survey study sites with a wide range of ecological properties (more information on request). Further we propose sites with soils developed from carbonate rock for testing related hypotheses. Focal tree species are Norway spruce (Picea abies), and European beech (Fagus sylvatica). Molecular studies may be conducted using Populus spp. as a model organism.

Proposed projects are supposed to contribute to at least one of the following research clusters:

  • speciation and allocation of P in soils

  • key players, processes and controls in P mobilisation

  • allocation, usage, and cycling of P within vegetation

  • allocation, usage, and cycling of P within the microbial communities

  • mass fluxes of P within and between ecosystem compartments

  • generalisation, regionalisation and conceptualising nutrition strategies

The working groups are expected to make use of recent innovations in molecular biology, spec-tro(micro)scopy, isotopic tracing, vegetation ecology and ecosystem modelling. Based on the results of the first phase, the human impact (changing water content, liming, N-input or the removal of biomass) addressed in the second phase of the Priority Programme based on a common field manipulation experiment will be selected.

Proposals for the first three-year period must be submitted in English to the DFG, Kennedyallee 40, 53170 Bonn, by 30 December 2012 with the keyword “SPP 1685/1” on paper (three com-plete copies and one signed copy) and one complete copy on CD-ROM. Please consider the modularisation of DFG Priority Programmes and related changes in the guidelines for proposals (forms 50.05 and 54.01). Please note that there is still no possibility for electronical applications.

Further Information

For further information related to the core sites please refer to:

Please note the general information and guidelines for proposals at:

Contact person for questions concerning the Priority Programme:

A more detailed description of the strategic aims and the proposed working programme will be provided on request.

Contact person for information on submitting proposals and the review process:

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