Dr Sebastian Leuzinger

profile image

Associate Professor, Head of Applied Ecology, Deputy Director, Institute for Applied Ecology New Zealand

Phone: 921 9999 ext. 6944

Email: Sebastian.Leuzinger@aut.ac.nz

Physical Address:

Institute for Applied Ecology New Zealand

School of Applied Sciences

Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences

WU Block, WU114
46 Wakefield Street
Auckland City

Postal Address:
Private Bag 92006
Auckland 1142
New Zealand
(Mail No C-44)


2006 PhD University of Basel, Switzerland 

2005 MSc University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland

2001 BSc (Hons) JCU Townsville, Australia 

Memberships and Affiliations:

Associate editor, Frontiers in Funtional Plant Ecology

Steering committee member iLEAPS, integrated Land Ecosystem Atmosphere-Processes Study

Board of reviewers, Tree Physiology

Member of the Ecological  Society of America

Member of Intecol, International Association for Ecology

Member of Asiaflux

Teaching Areas:

  • Biological Sampling and Interpretation (BIOL501)
  • Plant Ecology (777314)
  • Scientific Research (779015)
  • Research Techniques (776325)
  • Global Change Biology (779052)
  • Foundation Biology (774301)
  • Introduction to 'R', programming in R

Research Areas:

  • Global change impacts on plant communities
  • Water- and carbon relations in trees, ecophysiology of trees
  • Aquatic botany, mangrove ecology
  • Analysis of global patterns in plant response to global change
  • Free Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) experiments
  • Thermal imagery of vegetation cover

Research Summary:

I have worked on a large range of ecological topics both in marine and terrestrial environments using a variety of experimental and computational methods. My origin is in marine ecology, but I have mainly worked in terrestrial environments in the past ten years. I am interested in fundamental ecological questions such as:
  • Why do organisms pursue a given resource allocation strategy?
  • What limits plant growth in various ecosystems?
  • How do global changes impact on ecosystems, particularly plants?
  • How can meta-analysis and ‘pattern analysis’ help to understand global change impacts on our ecosystems?
  • How can we model plant growth to predict changes in the future carbon cycle?
  • How do trees transport water? How can we measure it?
  • How do trees die under drought?

Current and past student project supervision:

2015-2018 M Gonzalez, PhD, Investigating the pathology and physiological impact of aerial Phytophthora species on their hosts: P. pluvialis in New Zealand and Oregon forest systems. Co-supervision with N Williams, M Bader and P Scott from SCION, Rotorua

2015-2018 J Hilty, PhD, Characterising plant phenology at different scales using state-of-the-art imagery

2014-2017 Le Bai, PhD, Using the eddy covariance method to assess carbon and water relations in New Zealand mangroves

2013-2016 J Cusens, PhD, What limits plant growth? A case study in an open-air laboratory

2014-2017 AM Donnellan-Barraclough, PhD, Water relations of New Zealand mangroves

2014-2017 S Ravi, PhD, The role of non-structural carbohydrates under drought and salinity in native New Zealand vegetation

2013-2016 J Thoresen, PhD, Tracking seabird derived nutrients and carbon across terrestrial and marine trophic systems, co-supervision with D Towns

2013-2016 I Gritcan, PhD, Effects of nutrients on growth, productivity, and the potential spread of temperate mangroves in Mangawhai Harbour Estuary, northern New Zealand, co-supervision with A Alfaro

2013-2019 A Nishar, PhD, Application of Remote Sensing and GIS to investigate the relationship between Thermal Emissivity, Surface Geology and Geothermal Vegetation in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, co-supervision with B Breen

2015 V Dong, BSc project 7, Correlating diameter changes with water loss in stem segments of Avicennia marina.

2015 L Deng, BSc project 7, Characterising soil chemistry in a natural soil warming experiment at the Taupo geothermal fields.

Past student supervisions:

2014 E Windgrove, BSc project 7, Non-structural carbohydrate gradients in New Zealand mangroves.

2014 G Grygorenko, BSc project 7, Correlation between leaf transpiration and salinity exposure in Avicennia marina.

2014 P. Tran, MSc thesis 'Allometry, biomass and litter decomposition of the New Zealand mangrove Avicennia marina subsp. australasica'

2013 M. O’Brien, PhD thesis  ‘Drought response in primary forest climax species of Borneo’ (co-advisor, supervision by A. Hector, University of Zurich)

2011 R. Kappeler, Bachelor Thesis ‘The possibility of using extreme root restriction to simulate climax vegetation – methodology and growth responses’

2011 M. Thomas, Bachelor Thesis ‘Modelling of beech-spruce competition along an altitudinal gradient – importance of phenology’

2011 S. Wölfle, Bachelor Thesis ‘Analysis of the carbon and water cycle of an alpine catchment’

2010 Th. Kuhn, Bachelor Thesis ‘The impact of various combinations of global change drivers on C-fluxes in an alpine catchment’

2010 J. Hilty, Bachelor Thesis ‘The impact of rainfall patterns on C-fluxes in an alpine catchment’

2004 A. Hartmann, Master’s Thesis ‘Water relations of Ivy’ (Co-supervision with C. Körner, University of Basel)

Current Research Projects:

Available Master/PhD topics, please enquire for details
  • Water and carbon relations of mangroves
  • New electrokinetic methods for measuring sap flow in trees (in collaboration with M Bader, SCION, MSc project available)
  • Infrared thermography and spectral analysis to characterise plant functional types and plant water status (in collaboration with B Bollard Breen, AUT)
  • What limits tree growth in different biomes?
  • A microcosm experiment using extreme root restriction to simulate multiple global changes in miniature forest ecosystems
  • Are there general patterns in global change impacts on our ecosystems? (in collaboration with A Langley, Villanova University)


Peer-reviewed publications

Stephen Curry, in 'Sick of impact factors' warns us of the use of impact factors. The h-index is not much better, but anyway: my h-index is 22 and my i10-index 28. My papers have been cited over 1800 times, see my google scholar site - See more at:

If you are really interested in what I am doing, looking at indices and factors, whatever their name, will not do, you'll have to read my papers. And if you can't access them, drop me an email, I am happy to provide them for private use:


Bader MKF, Mildner M, Baumann C, Leuzinger S, Körner C (2016) Photosynthetic enhancement and diurnal stem and soil carbon fluxes in a mature Norway spruce stand under elevated CO2. Environmental and Experimental Botany 124:110-119.

Tran P, Gritcan I, Cusens J, Alfaro AC, Leuzinger S (2016) Biomass and nutrient composition of temperate mangrove  Avicennia marina  var . australasica, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research,  accepted

Klein, T., Bader, M. K. -F., Leuzinger, S., Mildner, M., Schleppi, P., Siegwolf, R. T. W., et al. Lines, E. (2016). Growth and carbon relations of mature Picea abies trees under 5 years of free-air CO2 enrichment. Journal of Ecology, 104(6), 1720-1733. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12621

Fatichi, S., Leuzinger, S., Paschalis, A., Langley, J. A., Donnellan Barraclough, A., & Hovenden, M. J. (2016). Partitioning direct and indirect effects reveals the response of water-limited ecosystems to elevated CO2.. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. doi:10.1073/pnas.1605036113


Pointing SB, Buedel B, Convey P, Gillman L, Körner C, Leuzinger S, Vincent WF (2015) Biogeography of photoautotrophs in the high polar biome. Frontiers in Functional Plant Ecology doi: 10.3389/fpls.2015.00692

Leuzinger S, Fatichi S, Cusens J, Niklaus PA, C Körner (2015) The ‘island effect’ in terrestrial global change experiments: a problem with no solution? AoB Plants, plv092

Gornish ES and Leuzinger S (2015) Across the horizon: Scale effects in global change research. AoB Plants, plv079

Reyer CPO, Brouwers N, Rammig A, Brook BW, Epila J, Grant RF, Holmgren M, Langerwisch F, Leuzinger S, Lucht W, Medlyn B, Pfeifer M, Steinkamp J, Vanderwel MC, Verbeeck H, Villela DM (2015) Forest resilience and tipping points at different spatio‐temporal scales: approaches and challenges. Journal of Ecology, 103:5-15


O’Brien MJ, Leuzinger S, Philipson CD, Tay J, Hector A (2014) Drought survival of tropical tree seedlings enhanced by non-structural carbohydrate levels. Nature Climate Change, 4:710-714

Mildner LM, Bader MKF, Leuzinger S, Siegwolf RTW, Körner C (2014) Long-term 13C labeling provides evidence for temporal and spatial carbon allocation patterns in mature Picea abies. Oecologia, 1-16


Fatichi S, Leuzinger S, Körner C (2013) Moving beyond photosynthesis: from carbon source to sink-driven vegetation modeling. New Phytologist, 201:286-295

Bader MFK, Leuzinger S, Keel SG, Siegwolf RTW, Hagedorn F, Schleppi P, Körner C (2013) Central  European hardwood trees in a high-CO2 future: synthesis of an 8-year forest canopy CO2 enrichment project. Journal of Ecology, 101:1509-1519

Elkin C, Gutierrez A, Leuzinger S, Manusch C, Temperli C, Rasche L, Bugmann H (2013). A 2°C warmer world is not safe for ecosystem services in the European Alps. Global Change Biology, 19:1827-1840

Fatichi S, Leuzinger S (2013) Reconciling observations with modeling: the fate of water and carbon allocation in a mature deciduous forest exposed to elevated CO2. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 174:144-157

Pappas C, Fatichi S, Leuzinger S, Wolf A, Burlando P (2013) Sensitivity analysis of a process-based ecosystem model: pinpointing parameterization and structural issues. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, published online, doi:10.1002/jgrg.20035

Leuzinger S
, Manusch C, Bugmann H, Wolf A. (2013) A sink-limited growth model improves biomass estimation along boreal and alpine treelines. Journal of Global Ecology and Biogeography, doi:10.1111/geb.12047

Leuzinger S
, Hättenschwiler S (2013) Beyond global change - lessons from 25 years of CO2 research. Oecologia 171:639-651, doi:10.1007/s00442-012-2584-5

Reyer C, Leuzinger S, Rammig A, Wolf A, Bartholomeus RP, Bonfante A, de Lorenzi F, Dury M, Gloning P, Abou Jaoudé R, Klein T, Kuster TM, Martins M, Niedrist G, Riccardi M, Wohlfahrt G, de Angelis P, de Dato G, François L, Menzel A, Pereira M (2013) A plant’s perspective of extremes: Terrestrial plant responses to changing climatic variability. Global Change Biology 19:75-89, doi: 10.1111/gcb.12023


Leuzinger S and Bader MKF (2012) Experimental versus modelled water use in mature Norway spruce (Picea abies) exposed to elevated CO2. Frontiers in Functional Plant Ecology, doi: 10.3389/fpls.2012.00229

Beier C, Beierkuhnlein C, Wohlgemuth T, Peñuelas J, Emmet B, Körner C, de Boeck H, Hesselbjerg Christensen J, Leuzinger S, Miglietta F, Janssens I, Hansen K (2012) Precipitation manipulation experiments – Challenges and recommendations for the future, Ecology Letters 15:899-911

Dieleman W, Vicca S, Dijkstra F. Hagedorn F, Hovenden M, Larsen K, Morgan J, Volder A, Beier C, Dukes J, King J, Leuzinger S, Linder S, Oren R, Tingey D, Hoosbeek M, Luo Y, Janssens I (2012) Combined manipulation of atmospheric CO2 and temperature in terrestrial ecosystems: Response patterns of biomass and soil processes, Global Change Biology 18:2681-2693, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2012.02745.x

Leuzinger S
, Willis BL, Anthony KRN (2012) Energy allocation in the shallow reef coral Montipora digitata. Marine Biology 159:177–186


Leuzinger S
, Thomas RQ (2011) How do we improve Earth system models? Integrating Earth system models, ecosystem models, experiments and long-term data. New Phytologist 191:15–18

Leuzinger S
, Luo Y, Beier C, Dieleman W, Vicca S, Körner C (2011) Do global change experiments overestimate impacts on terrestrial ecosystems? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26:236-241

Leuzinger S
, Hartmann A, Körner C (2011) Water relations of climbing ivy in a temperate forest. Planta 233:1087-1096


Asshoff R, Riedl S, Leuzinger S (2010) Towards a better understanding of carbon flux. Journal of Biological Education 44:180-184

Braun S, Schindler C, Leuzinger S (2010) Use of sap flow measurements to validate stomatal functions for mature beech (Fagus sylvatica) in view of ozone uptake calculations. Environmental Pollution 158:2954-2963, doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2010.05.028

Leuzinger S
, Körner C (2010) Rainfall distribution is the main driver of runoff under future CO2-concentration in a temperate deciduous forest. Global Change Biology 16:246–254, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2009.01937.x.

Leuzinger S
, Vogt R, Körner C (2010) Tree surface temperature in an urban environment. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 150:56-62, doi:10.1016/j.agrformet.2009.08.006

Leuzinger S
(2010) (in German) Die Auswirkungen des Globalen Wandels auf Schweizer Wälder aus ökophysiologischer Sicht. Schweizer Zeitschrift für Forstwesen 161:1 2-11, doi: 10.3188/szf.2010.0002


Leuzinger S
(2009) (in German) Grössere Kohlenstoffspeicherkapazität durch mehr diffuse Strahlung? Rezension von Mercado lM et al. (2009) Impact of changes in diffuse radiation on the global land carbon sink. Nature 458: 1014–1017, Schweizer Zeitschrift für Forstwesen 11:357-358

Leuzinger S
, Bigler C, Wolf A, Körner, C (2009) Poor methodology for predicting large-scale tree die-off. PNAS 2009 106:E106, doi:10.1073/pnas.0908053106


Keel SG, Pepin S, Leuzinger S, Körner C (2007) Stomatal conductance in mature deciduous forest trees exposed to elevated CO2. Trees 21:151-159

Leuzinger S
, Körner C (2007) Tree species diversity affects canopy leaf temperatures in a mature temperate forest. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 146:29-37

Leuzinger S
, Körner C (2007) Water savings in mature deciduous forest trees under elevated CO2. Global Change Biology 13:2498-2508


Leuzinger S
, Zotz G, Asshoff R, Körner C (2005) Responses of deciduous forest trees to severe drought in Central Europe. Tree Physiology 25:641-650


Leuzinger S
, Anthony KRN, Willis BL (2003) Reproductive energy investment in corals: scaling with module size. Oecologia 136:524-531


Leuzinger S
, Introduction to R (2012) 65pp. Idea Verlag, Puchheim Zürich

Other (in chronological order)

Leuzinger S
(2011) (in German) Blatttemperatur von Bäumen im städtischen Umfeld. Pro Baum 1:7-10

Leuzinger S
(2009) Combining experimental data and modelling to predict runoff in a high-CO2 world. ProClim Flash Nr. 45 Juni 2009 p. 10

Leuzinger S
(2009) (in German) Stand der Kenntnisse zur Auswirkung des Globalen Wandels auf Schweizer Wälder. Bericht im Auftrag des Bundesamtes für Umwelt, Schweiz, 55

Leuzinger S
(2007) (in German) Die Klimaingenieure. Wissenschaftsmagazin der Universität Basel, Themenheft Pflanzen, Uni Nova 107 11-13

Leuzinger S
(2006) Water relations in deciduous forest trees under elevated CO2. PhD thesis, University of Basel. Supervision: C. Körner

Leuzinger S
(2005) Time series analysis of sap flow signals in trees under elevated CO2. Master's Thesis, University of Neuchâtel. Supervision: A Davison, S Sardy, M-A Moravie

Leuzinger S
(2001) Energy allocation patterns in scleractinian corals. Honours thesis, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia. Supervision: Anthony KRN and Willis BL