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Prof. Dr. Christian Wirth from Leipzig University has been appointed by the Senate of the Max Planck Society as External Scientific Member at the request of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC). As a former group leader and later fellow at the MPI-BGC, Prof. Wirth initiated and supported the development of the TRY database, the world's largest collection on plant traits. His research on the influence of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem services of forests ideally complements the research focus of the Max Planck Institute in Jena.

The awarding of this honorary title is intended to further strengthen research cooperation in the field of biodiversity, biogeochemistry and global change between the MPI-BGC, Leipzig University and, in particular, the iDiv Center. In addition to Prof. Dr. Christian Wirth, Prof. Anna Michalak, Director of the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science and Professor of Earth System Science and of Biology at Stanford University, was also appointed as an external member with MPI-BGC in 2023.

"I am delighted to be breaking new ground with my excellent colleagues at the MPI for Biogeochemistry. Species extinction and climate change are phenomena of one and the same problem. The consequences of biodiversity loss cannot be understood without biogeochemistry and the relationship to the Earth system," says Wirth.

Prof. Wirth has a long and fruitful relationship with the MPI-BGC in Jena. From 2005 to 2009, he was head of the independent Max Planck Research Group "Organismic Biogeochemistry", where he conducted research at national and international locations, but also in Central Germany, for example in the DFG-funded "Jena Experiment" and the "Biodiversity Exploratories".  He then accepted a position at the University of Leipzig. There, together with many colleagues from Central Germany, he was instrumental in founding the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig and act as its spokesperson.

"We are very happy to have gained Christian Wirth as an external member, who with his understanding of global biodiversity optimally complements our research on global element cycles," says Prof. Sönke Zaehle, Managing Director at the MPI-BGC, and continues: "We look forward to further constructive cooperation and new impulses to better understand the importance of biodiversity for global element cycles and, above all, their stability against the background of current climate and land use changes."


Complete press release of Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry