Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

The response of soil organic matter and natural ecosystems (primarily forests) to climate change

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
4.03.00  Biotechnical sciences  Plant production   

Code Science Field
P510  Natural sciences and mathematics  Physical geography, geomorphology, pedology, cartography, climatology 
B270  Biomedical sciences  Plant ecology 
composition of natural ecosystems, forest, biogeochemical cycling of C and N, C3 and C4 plants, carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes, 14C, soil organic matter decomposition, soil microbial communities, biomarkers, PLFA, DNA/RNA fingerprinting
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (12)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  19262  Svetlana Gogič Knežić    Technical associate  2005 - 2008 
2.  06736  Andreja Hodnik  Plant production  Researcher  2005 - 2008  137 
3.  26265  PhD Glenn Seward Jaecks  Geology  Researcher  2005 - 2008  21 
4.  15814  PhD Jože Kotnik  Geology  Researcher  2005 - 2008  380 
5.  00952  PhD Franc Lobnik  Plant production  Researcher  2005 - 2008  820 
6.  10807  PhD Sonja Lojen  Geology  Researcher  2005 - 2008  510 
7.  13073  PhD Rok Mihelič  Plant production  Researcher  2005 - 2008  468 
8.  05755  Janez Rupreht  Plant production  Researcher  2005 - 2008  316 
9.  14056  PhD Marjetka Suhadolc  Plant production  Researcher  2005 - 2008  247 
10.  04847  PhD Nataša Jaecks Vidic  Plant production  Head  2005 - 2008  166 
11.  18290  PhD Polona Vreča  Geology  Researcher  2005 - 2008  687 
12.  08834  PhD Marko Zupan  Plant production  Researcher  2005 - 2008  496 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0106  Jožef Stefan Institute  Ljubljana  5051606000  88,610 
2.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  65,921 
3.  0618  Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts  Ljubljana  5105498000  62,024 
The understanding of the response of plant communities and soils in natural and agriculturalterrestrial ecosystems to the anthropogenic elevation of CO2 levels in the atmosphere andaccompanying climate change is of key importance for sustainable development, especiallybecause the observed rate of increase of the global mean temperature (0.17 C/decade; IPCC,2001) is in excess of the critical rate of 0.1 °C/decade beyond which the ecosystems cannotadjust (Lal, 2004). The understanding of terrestrial ecosystem response is necessary because ofthe potential migration of vegetation belts, natural hazard mitigation (slides, floods), groundwaterprotection, prevention invasive plants and animals encroachment (weeds, harmful organisms),success of agricultural production, and the quality of human environment. In addition to the plantcomposition changes, increased rate of soil organic matter mineralization and consequently soiland environmental degradation may be among the possible responses of terrestrial ecosystem toelevated global temperatures. Slovenia is located in the latitudinal zone where soils are relativelyrich in humus and where the global circulation models predict higher and faster warming rates(Kattenberg et al., 1996) compared to other latitutes. At present, the Slovenian ecosystems aredominated by C3 plants, especially forests. However, future warming may increase theproportion of C4 plants, mostly grasses, which could long-term decrease the percentage of forestcover. We propose stable isotope analyses (13C, 15N) of soil organic matter in Slovenian forests,which will enable the recostruction of several-year average C3/C4 composition at the samplingsite. We hope to detect possible past changes in plant composition at the sites and establish abaseline for long-term monitoring. To estimate the representativeness of isotope analyses forecosystem composition and detect possible isotope changes during decomposition, we will alsosample and analyze average samples of fresh and partly decomposed litter. To estimate rates ofsoil organic matter turnover, we will date SOM using 14C of samples from selected sites. Isotopeanalyses will be complemented with soil and microbial ecology (structure and function of soilmicrobial communities) analyses. Rates of litter decomposition and their dependence ontemperature will be examined in in situ and column litterbag experiments. Mathematicalpredictive models will be used to foresee the future changes in plant composition and rates ofSOM turnover in Slovenian forests. We will itroduce new methods to Slovenia, especially theanalyses of soluble fractions of SOM and soil microbial ecology techniques, which we expect tobe useful also for applied plant production research. The project is interdisciplinary and involvesthe co-operation of three Slovenian institutions (Uni-Lj, BF, IJS in ZRC SAZU), which providesappropriate expertise and equipment. The advantage of the project is the on-going internationalco-operation with GSF, Germany, and University of California at Davis in Indiana University,USA, which provides both professional and financial support to the project and allows theintroduction of new cutting-edge research methodology to Slovenia.
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