Plant Ecophysiology Lab Team Projects Publications

We study plant responses to climate change.
We particularly aim to assess the vulnerability of trees and forests to extreme climate events.

Follow @PlantEcoLab


Nadine Ruehr Group head
Andreas Gast Engineer
Andrea Jakab Technician
Benjamin Birami PhD Student
Marielle Gattmann PhD Student
Romy Rehschuh PhD Student

Research projects

The main focus of the DFG-funded Emmy Noether research group is to provide a detailed process understanding of carbon and water cycling in trees and forests exposed to varying stress scenarios, intensities and timing of stress. The main study object, Scots pine, one of the most widespread trees within Europe, has already shown significant decline in response to extreme drought events. We are particular interested in the underlying physiological responses including tree hydraulics, gas exchange, carbon allocation and growth during heat and drought stress and the ability to recover from stress. This will lead to an improved model framework to assess pine forest responses to future climate extremes.

In this joined DFG-funded project with colleagues from the Weizmann Institute, we quantify responses of Aleppo pine trees to future, increasingly extreme conditions as predicted for the Negev region, where the Yatir forest, a large Aleppo pine plantation is growing. We specifically focus on how the trees cope with heat waves and drought today and in the future under increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. To capture the stress responses, we measure whole-tree gas exchange, emissions of volatile organic compounds and metabolites under controlled conditions. In addition, a detailed forest ecosystem model (LandscapeDNDC) will help to assess semi-arid forest growth under predicted global change conditions.


Trugman AT, Anderegg LDL, Wolfe BT, Birami B, Ruehr NK, Detto M, Bartlett MK, Anderegg WRL (accepted) Climate and plant trait strategies determine tree carbon allocation to leaves and mediate future forest productivity. Global Change Biology

Ruehr NK, Grote R, Mayr S, Arneth A (accepted). Beyond the extreme: Recovery of carbon and water relations in woody plants following heat and drought stress. Tree Physiology

Etzold S, Zieminska K, Rohner B, Bottero A, Bose AK, Ruehr NK, Zingg A, Rigling A (accepted) One century of forest monitoring data in Switzerland reveals species- and site-specific trends of climate-induced tree mortality. Frontiers in Plant Science

Zeeman M, Shupe H, Baessler C, Ruehr NK (2019). Productivity and vegetation structure of three differently managed temperate grasslands. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 270:129-148.

Birami B, Gattmann M, Heyer AG, Grote R, Arneth A, Ruehr NK (2018). Heat waves alter carbon allocation and increase mortality of Aleppo pine under dry conditions. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change

Klein T, Zeppel MJB, Anderegg WRL, Bloemen J, De Kauwe MG, Hudson P, Ruehr NK, Powell TL, von Arx G, Nardini A (2018). Xylem embolism refilling and resilience against drought-induced mortality in woody plants: processes and trade-offs. Ecological Research. 33:839-855.

Brauner K, Birami B, Brauner HA, Heyer AG (2018). Diurnal periodicity of assimilate transport shapes resource allocation and whole-plant carbon balance. The Plant Journal.doi:10.1111/tpj.13898

Hartmann H*, Moura CF*, Anderegg WRL*, Ruehr NK*, Salmon Y*, Allen CD, Arndt SK, Breshears DD, Davi H, Galbraith D, Ruthrof KX, Wunder J, Adams HD, Bloemen J, Cailleret M, Cobb R, Gessler A, Grams TEE, Jansen S, Kautz M, Lloret F, and O'Brien M (2018). Research frontiers for improving our understanding of drought-induced tree and forest mortality. New Phytologist, 218(1):15-28. doi:10.1111/nph.15048
*Contributed as first authors in equal parts to the manuscript.

Hartmann H, Schuldt B, Sanders TGM, Macinnis-Ng C, Boehmer HJ, Allen CD, Bolte A, Crowther TW, Hansen MC, Medlyn BE, Ruehr NK, and Anderegg WRL (2018). Monitoring global tree mortality patterns and trends. Report from the VW symposium - Crossing scales and disciplines to identify global trends of tree mortality as indicators of forest health. New Phytologist 217(3):984-987. doi:10.1111/nph.14988

Bamberger I, Ruehr NK, Schmitt M, Gast A, Wohlfahrt G, and Arneth A (2017). Isoprene emission and photosynthesis during heat waves and drought in black locust. Biogeosciences 14 (15):3649-3667 doi:10.5194/bg-14-3649-2017

Rehschuh R, Mette T, Menzel A, and Buras A (2017). Soil properties affect the drought susceptibility of Norway spruce. Dendrochronologia, 45:81-89. doi:10.1016/j.dendro.2017.07.003

Duarte AG, Katata G, Hoshika Y, Hossain M, Kreuzwieser J, Arneth A, Ruehr NK (2016). Immediate and potential long-term effects of consecutive heat waves on the photosynthetic performance and water balance in Douglas-fir. Journal of Plant Physiology, 205:57-66 doi:10.1016/j.jplph.2016.08.012

Ruehr NK, Gast A, Weber C, Daub B, Arneth A (2016). Water availability as dominant control of heat stress responses in two contrasting tree species. Tree Physiology, 36(2):164-178 doi:10.1093/treephys/tpv102

The Plant Ecophysiology lab is a research group of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and receives funding by the Emmy Noether programme of the German Science Foundation (DFG) and by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) through the Helmholtz Association and its research programme ATMO.