80 Jahre experimentelle Ökosystemforschung auf der Schynigen Platte im Berner Oberland

Hegg, Otto; Schaffner, Urs (eds.) (2012). 80 Jahre experimentelle Ökosystemforschung auf der Schynigen Platte im Berner Oberland. Bristol-Schriftenreihe: Vol. 31. Bern: Haupt

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This book provides the first comprehensive overview of the longest running experiments conducted on subalpine grasslands in Europe, and perhaps the world. In 1927, the ‘Alpengarten’ (alpine garden) was opened at the Schynige Platte, Bernese Oberland, 2000 m above sea level. One year later, Werner Lüdi, then a lecturer at the Botanical Institute of the University of Berne, started to set up permanent plots inside the ‘Alpengarten’, and a few years later on a pasture (‘Versuchsweide’) situated below the Alpengarten. Influenced by the food shortage during World War One, Lüdi’s original goal was to identify treatments that significantly and continuously increase the productivity of low-fodder-quality subalpine grasslands on acid soil. When Prof Otto Hegg, professor emeritus at the Institute of Botany, University of Bern, rediscovered the permanent plots of Lüdi in the 1970s, he soon realized that Lüdi’s experiments are of unique scientific interest, a fact that was later acknowledged at the UN General Assembly 1997 “Five years after Rio”. Hegg changed Lüdi’s original research goals to be more ecologically oriented, asking questions such as “what are the effects of the various soil amendments on the loss of rare species”, and “what is the legacy of alpine ecosystems to human disturbance”.
Chapters 2 and 3 of this book provide a historical overview of the establishment of the experiments on the ‘Versuchsweide’ and in the ‘Alpengarten’. They also give a summary of the findings of Lüdi during the first 25 years of the experiment, and the results obtained by Hegg. In chapter 4, Werner Dähler describes the detailed reconstruction of Lüdi’s permanent plots in the late 1980s, the setup of the sophisticated database comprising all vegetation censuses done between the 1930s and the 1980s, and the multivariate analyses he did during his PhD thesis to analyse the temporal variation in vegetation composition on plots that received the same combination of soil amendments. Svenja Tidow focuses in chapter 5 on the first years of Lüdi’s experiment. To gain a more detailed picture of what happened right after the soil amendments were made, she compares the results of Lüdi from the 1930s with those from additional plots set up and treated with fertilizer and lime during her PhD thesis in the mid 1990s. In chapters 6 and 7, Thomas Spiegelberger and Urs Schaffner provide evidence that the composition of both the vegetation and the soil microbial community still differed between limed and control plots some 70 years after the last amendment, and that the underlying mechanism for the long-term legacy effect of the historical liming events is a long-term storage of added calcium in stable soil pools. In chapter 8, Pascal Vittoz analysed the vegetation composition in the permanent plots at the Schynige Platte and in the Vallon de Nant to assess whether climate change has already lead to changes in vegetation composition on subalpine grasslands. The book ends with an outlook by Markus Fischer, professor at the Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern, in which he argues that the experimental plots in the ‘Alpengarten’ and on the ‘Versuchsweide’ are likely to further increase in value in the future.
Illustrated with pictures from the first years of the experiment up to date, this book not only provides a historical review of the research that has been conducted on the long-term experimental research sites at the Schynige Platte, but also provides inspiration for continued explorations of the ecology of mountain ecosytems.

Item Type:

Book (Edited Volume)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Vegetation Science [discontinued]

UniBE Contributor:

Hegg, Otto


500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)










Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

20 Dec 2016 10:13

Last Modified:

06 Aug 2020 16:19

Uncontrolled Keywords:

subalpine grassland, ecology, liming, fertilization, long-term experiment, vegetation, soil





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