Department of Environmental Systems Science, Institute of Agricultural Sciences at ETH Zurich, Switzerland.
Nina Buchmann (born 1965) studied Geoecology in Bayreuth, Germany, where she also received her doctoral degree. As early as for her Diploma and doctoral theses, she focused on the process- and system-oriented understanding of terrestrial ecosystems, at the time, nutrient and nitrogen dynamics in forests. During three years as an Alexander-von-Humboldt fellow at the University of Utah, USA, she continued working with stable isotopes, i.e., carbon isotope applications to understand the carbon dynamics in forest and agricultural ecosystems. After finishing her Habilitation in botany in 1999, she continued as an ecosystem ecologist with her own research group at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany. She expanded into a new research field, i.e., biodiversity-ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services in grasslands, working in managed as well as in experimental grasslands such as the Jena Experiment. Since 2003, she is full Professor of Grassland Sciences at ETH Zurich. Her main research topics include (1) plant ecophysiology and ecosystem biogeochemistry, (2) biospheric-atmospheric greenhouse gas (CO2, H2O, CH4, N2O) exchange of forests, grasslands and croplands in response to climatic conditions and management regimes, and (3) mechanisms underlying biodiversity-ecosystem services relationships in grasslands. More recently, she also got interested in the economic assessment of ecosystem services provided by grasslands. Over the last 20 years, she served on many committees dealing with strategic development, recruitment and evaluation, as well as funding decisions. She has contributed as PI and workpackage leader to many international projects, chaired two large European programs on stable isotope applications, and now runs with her group the Swiss FluxNet, a network with six flux towers across Switzerland. She has authored more than 240 peer-reviewed journal papers, supervised more than 50 doctoral students, and worked with almost 30 postdocs and senior scientists. In 2007, she received the ETH Zurich award "Das Goldene Dreirad" (The Golden Tricycle) for the most family and staff friendly leader at ETH Zurich, and became member of the German National Academy of Sciences.
Grassland ecology and sustainable management, friends or foes?
While grassland ecologists address fundamental research questions, motivated by highly relevant global challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss, grassland managers are confronted with exactly those challenges, e.g. increasingly frequent extreme events and changes in species composition. Moreover, both aim towards sustainable grassland management, also demanded by consumers and policy-makers alike. So the questions arise, how can managers learn from ecologists, how can ecologists learn from managers?
Ecosystem services, provided by grassland ecosystems and highly relevant for both communities, represent a common denominator for joint learning activities. High quality forage production for livestock and erosion control are intimately linked to species traits and community composition. Climate regulation and water purification clearly depend on management activities which in turn are driven by grassland composition and environmental site conditions. How these services are affected by climate change, but also to what extend grasslands contribute to climate change or can actually used to mitigate it, are important research but also management questions. Resistance and resilience of grasslands are of main concern to grassland ecologists and managers.
Various networks and experiments with both intensively as well as extensively managed grasslands will be used to integrate both perspectives on grasslands. Drought simulations across elevational gradients, biodiversity experiments for identifiying multifunctionality in grasslands, and ecosystem flux measurements for assessing ecosystem vulnerability but also for quantifying carbon sequestration and N2O mitigation potentials together provide crucial and beneficial insights to inform sustainable.