Scroll to Section:

Being easier to observe, the aboveground components of ecological systems tend to be considered of predominant importance. In this video, STEFAN SCHEU explains the extent to which the healthy functioning of these systems is dependent on what happens underground. With visual observation impossible, Scheu employs isotope labeling to trace the paths taken by particular elements belowground. Where it was heretofore understood that aboveground litter material provided a major source of food for belowground organisms, Scheu’s study shows that the great majority of carbon enters the underground system via plant roots. With undoubted relevance for agricultural productivity and conservation, Scheu’s research draws attention to the vital ecological contribution of phenomena that occur out of human sight.


Stefan Scheu is Professor of Animal Ecology at the University of Göttingen where he sits on the Executive Board of the Centre for Biodiversity and Sustainable Land Use. Previously Professor for Zoology and Ecology and Dean of the Faculty of Biology at Darmstadt University of Technology, Scheu’s research interests include the structure of soil animal food webs and parthenogenesis vs. sexuality in soil animal species. Formerly editor-in-chief of Pedobiologia, Scheu is an editorial board member of several scholarly journals including Frontiers in Zoology and the Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science.


University of Göttingen (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)

Founded in 1737, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen is a research university of international renown with strong focuses in research-led teaching. The University is distinguished by the rich diversity of its subject spectrum particularly in the humanities, its excellent facilities for the pursuit of scientific research, and the outstanding quality of the areas that define its profile. From 2007 to 2012 Georg-August-Universität Göttingen was rewarded funding from the Initiative of Excellence of the German Federal and State Governments with its institutional strategy for the future entitled “Göttingen.Tradition – Innovation – Autonomy”. The University was able to realise all measures of the concept. Now Göttingen University develops the successfully established measures further to continously advance the University’s positive developments in research and teaching. ( Source )
Show more

Original publication

Root-derived Carbon and Nitrogen from Beech and Ash Trees Differentially Fuel Soil Animal Food Webs of Deciduous Forests

Zieger Sarah L., Ammerschubert Silke, Polle Andrea and Scheu Stefan
PloS one
Published in 2017

Roots Rather than Shoot Residues Drive Soil Arthropod Communities of Arable Fields

Scheu Stefan, Scheunemann Nicole, Digel Christoph and Butenschoen Olaf
Published in 2015

The Underestimated Importance of Belowground Carbon Input for Forest Soil Animal Food Webs

Scheu Stefan, Pollierer Melanie M., Langel Reinhard, Körner Christian and Maraun Mark
Ecology Letters
Published in 2007

Incorporation of Plant Carbon into the Soil Animal Food Web of an Arable System

Scheu Stefan, Albers Derk and Schaefer Matthias
Published in 2006