LOGLIFE tree cemetery experiment

LOGLIFE is a long-term ‘common garden’ experiment with reciprocal exchange of coarse dead wood of multiple tree species, all incubated in each of two contrasting sites in The Netherlands: (1) poplar forest on moist, base-rich clayey soils (Hollandse Hout, Flevoland) versus (2) larch forest on drier, acidic sandy soils (Schovenhorst, Veluwe).

The ideas, design and setting up of this ‘tree cemetery’ experiment have been a truly heroic team effort with enthusiastic members representing several different scientific disciplines and institutions. In the first months of 2012 the team sharpened their saws, flexed their muscles and shifted many tonnes of coarse wood. By the end we proudly started the incubation of 120 big (dead) trees cut up into 600 logs, each of 25 cm diameter and 1 m length. Over the course of 16 years we will harvest and sample logs for decay dynamics (t =1, 2, 4, 8, 16 years) and associated biodiversity. Additionally we will perform a multiple organ decomposition study and monitor the development of soil organic matter profiles below decomposing logs. In the first month of 2013, eight additional tree species will be added to the experiment in the poplar tree cemetery in Flevoland.

The main objectives of LOGLIFE are (1) to experimentally test for interspecific variation in dead wood decomposability as determined by chemical and structural-anatomical traits and allometry; and (2) to test the consequences of this variation for wood-associated diversity of other organisms.

Key related focal topics are:

  1. Interactions of wood traits and decomposability with microbial colonisation and invertebrate communities
  2. Feedbacks between tree decomposition and forest productivity as mediated by species traits
  3. Interspecific differences in the dynamics of specific recalcitrant C-rich compounds during decomposition and consequences for soil organic matter storage in soils
  4. Relative contributions of environmental (microclimate) effects versus species trait effects on wood decomposition rates
  5. Relative contributions of interspecific versus intraspecific variation to wood decomposability
  6. Coordinated variation of wood decomposability with variation in decomposability of other tree organs across species
  7. The role of bark traits for bark and wood decomposability

LOGLIFE welcomes new people who bring in fresh ideas and complementary expertise for joint studies on associated topics; and/or who, like us, are at their happiest when tired and dirty from carrying logs around in the forest.

More information on this project can be found in our Ambio paper:
Cornelissen, J.C., Sass-Klaassen, U., Poorter, L., Geffen, K., Logtestijn, R.P., Hal, J., Goudzwaard, L., Sterck, F., Klaassen, R.W.M., Freschet, G., Wal, A., Eshuis, H., Zuo, J., Boer, W., Lamers, T., Weemstra, M., Cretin, V., Martin, R., Ouden, J., Berg, M., Aerts, R., Mohren, G.J. & Hefting, M. (2012) Controls on Coarse Wood Decay in Temperate Tree Species: Birth of the LOGLIFE Experiment. AMBIO, 41, 231–245.