MSc thesis: Plant response to a warmer climate, nitrogen deposition and grazing

Project background
Alpine ecosystems provide important ecosystem functions and services such as biodiversity, clean water, grazing pastures and carbon storage. Anthropogenic global change is now threatening alpine ecosystems and the functions it provides for nature and people. In the THREE-D project we study how three global change drivers, including warmer climate, nitrogen deposition and grazing affect alpine grasslands in Norway and China. Warmer climate and nitrogen addition, generally have a negative impact on biodiversity and ecosystem functions, such as carbon cycling. However, grazing at an intermediate level, has the potential to mitigate these negative impacts. To investigate the impact of these global change drivers, we use a large-scale, replicated field experiment, where we transplant plant communities to lower elevation to simulate a warmer climate crossed with nitrogen addition and different levels of grazing. We collect data on plant productivity, plant species composition, decomposition, and soil carbon fluxes to study their response to global change.

Thesis proposal
Question: How does plant biomass/productivity and plant functional groups respond to a warmer climate, nitrogen deposition and grazing?
Methods: Aboveground biomass has been harvested in the THREE-D experiment since 2019 with the goal to better understand how the single and combined effects of warmer climate, nitrogen addition and grazing impact biomass. As an Msc student on this project you will collect aboveground biomass in the final year of the THREE-D project (after 4 years of treatment). You will then sort the biomass into plant functional groups (graminoids, forbs, legumes, shrubs, bryophytes, lichen and litter), dry and weigh it. You will have access to the biomass data from the whole project period and be able to disentangle how each global change driver alone and in combination with other drivers affect aboveground biomass.


As a MSc student working within the THREE-D project, you will:

  • do field and lab work, and learn how to design and conduct ecological experiments, identify and measure plants, manage and analyze ecological data, write it up as a thesis, and present your work in oral presentations within the team and at conferences.
  • be part of the ‘Between The Fjords’ lab group activities
  • be part of a large collaborative international research project, where you will participate in project meetings and workshops online and in person.

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Contact information

Aud Halbritter: