Tree cemetery experiment is about to start

Published on
April 8, 2013

On Monday 8th of April there will be a somewhat festive afternoon to mark the start of the LOGLIFE experiment on coarse wood decomposition (the Tree Cemetery Experiment). The afternoon (from 13.00 hours) is also open to any of you who want join and visit the 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: poplar forest on moist, base-rich clayey soils (Hollandse Hout, Flevoland) versus larch forest on drier, acidic sandy soils (Schovenhorst, Veluwe). Three universities (Utrecht University, Vrije Universiteit and Wageningen University) started the experiment without financial support but with a lot of cooperation from colleagues and students.

“The ideas, design and setting up of this ‘tree cemetery’ experiment have been a truly heroic team effort,” Ute Sass-Klaassen says. “We had 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 the researchers will harvest and sample logs for decay dynamics and associated biodiversity. Additionally they 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 to experimentally test for interspecific variation in dead wood decomposability as determined by chemical and structural-anatomical traits and allometry, and to test the consequences of this variation for wood-associated diversity of other organisms.

Interested in joining or visiting the experiment? Ask Ute Sass-Klaassen for more information.

See also the Tree Cemetery website.