Comparison of contrasting beech forests

Beech forests characterize the natural appearance of the temperate zone in central and west Europe. The competitiveness of beech and the diversity of ecological beech forest types are a unique phenomenon. Beech dominates forests on acid as well as on basic soils, but in each case is accompanied by vastly different plant species and patterns of ecosystem matter cycling. The two beech stands visited in this course exactly represent these conditions and provide opportunity for investigations. Additionally, methods for long-term monitoring of carbon, water and nutrient fluxes in forest ecosystems are demonstrated. 

One-day course: Theoretical introduction at XLAB, field trip to two contrasting types of beech forest (on moder and limestone) near Göttingen, surveys of stand structure and vegetation, thorough soil assessments including grain size determinations and pH measurements of mineral soil horizons and the distinct organic layers of the forest floor, interpretation of research facilities at the ecosystem research site, visit to canopy walkway, data evaluation at XLAB: identification of forest types and assessment of abiotic factors based on indicator species groups used in forestry and ecological indicator values. 

Longer courses: additionally e.g. comparison of sun and shade leaves (photosynthesis, fluorescence, chlorophyll analysis, microscopy) including measurements and harvests from 42 m tower as well as lab analyses; or spatial distribution of sun and shade species in relation to light availability; or determination of tree biomass and growth increment; or effects of soil acidification on plant species etc. 

Following participation in the course Forest ecology at Solling, a comparative survey of structure, vegetation and soil at Göttingen Forest (beech forest on limestone) as well as a (limited) ecophysiological program on sun and shade adaptation could be completed within one additional course day.

Time of year: May to October
Travel expenses: € 8 per person per day or use of own vehicles
Duration: 1 day or longer
Maximal number of participants: 23 with organized travel, 24 with own vehicles