Professor Sebastian Leuzinger

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Academic appointments:

  • Head of Department (Applied Ecology), School of Science (2016 - ongoing)
  • Programme Leader Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology (2012 - ongoing)


  • PhD in Plant Ecology, University of Basel, 2006
  • MSc Statistics, University of Neuchâtel, 2005
  • BSc(HONS) in Coral Reef Ecology, James Cook University, 2001
  • Open Water Dive Instructor, PADI, 2001


I am a broadly interested plant ecologist working at the interface of experimental and modelling work. Coming from an ecophysiological background (plant - atmosphere relations), I am increasingly interested in meta-analyses and overarching trends in the response of plants to global change drivers. More specifically, I am researching how an increase in atmospheric CO2 can cause plant communities to change through the less known indirect effects operating via soil moisture savings. I am involved in a number of international efforts to synthesise global results from elevated CO2 experiments. On a smaller scale, I am interested in how plants transport water and how this relates to carbon exchange and storage. Mangroves provide a great model ecosystems for this purpose, as they are mature forests, yet accessible and located in very homogenous conditions. Lastly, I am active on an international level as a steering committee member of iLEAPS (integrated Land-Ecosystem Atmosphere Processes Studies), a core project of the UN programme 'future earth', and as an associate editor for the journal 'Frontiers in Functional Plant Ecology'.

Research interests:

- Plants under global environmental change
- The role of vegetation in the global carbon and water cycle
- Water and carbon relations in trees, sap flow
- Root grafting, the physiology of living tree stumps
- Meta analyses of global change experiments
- Mangrove ecology
- Science and education

Teaching summary:

BIOL501 Biological Sampling and Interpretation
SCIE602 Research Techniques
ECOL701 Plant Ecology
ECOL732 Pacific Island Ecosystems (taught in the Solomon Islands)

Fields of research:

  • Ecological Impacts of Climate Change
  • Ecology
  • Ecological Physiology
  • Terrestrial Ecology

Professional activities:

Featured professional activities

  • Associate Editor, Frontiers in Plant Physiology (2019 - ongoing)
  • Associate Editor, Frontiers in Functional Plant Ecology (2012 - ongoing)

Editorship, reviewing, examining, and judging

  • Associate Editor, Frontiers in Plant Physiology (2019 - ongoing)
  • Associate Editor, Frontiers in Functional Plant Ecology (2012 - ongoing)

Research outputs:


  • Leuzinger, S. (2012). Introduction to R. Puchheim: IDEA Verlag.

Journal articles

  • Donnellan Barraclough, A., Cusens, J., Zweifel, R., & Leuzinger, S. (2020). Environmental drivers of stem radius change and heterogeneity of stem radial water storage in the mangrove Avicennia marina (Forssk.) Vierh.. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 280, 1-12. doi:10.1016/j.agrformet.2019.107764

  • Gomez-Gallego, M., Williams, N., Leuzinger, S., Scott, P. M., & Bader, M. K. -F. (2020). No carbon limitation after lower crown loss in Pinus radiata. Annals of Botany, 125(6), 955-967. doi:10.1093/aob/mcaa013

  • Ravi, S., Young, T., Macinnis-Ng, C., Nyugen, T. V., Duxbury, M., Alfaro, A. C., & Leuzinger, S. (2020). Untargeted metabolomics in halophytes: The role of different metabolites in New Zealand mangroves under multi-factorial abiotic stress conditions. Environmental and Experimental Botany, 173. doi:10.1016/j.envexpbot.2020.103993

  • Orr, J. A., Vinebrooke, R. D., Jackson, M. C., Kroeker, K. J., Kordas, R. L., Mantyka-Pringle, C., . . . Piggott, J. J. (2020). Towards a unified study of multiple stressors: Divisions and common goals across research disciplines. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 287(1926). doi:10.1098/rspb.2020.0421

  • Walker, A. P., De Kauwe, M. G., Bastos, A., Belmecheri, S., Georgiou, K., Keeling, R., . . . Zuidema, P. A. (2020). Integrating the evidence for a terrestrial carbon sink caused by increasing atmospheric CO₂. New Phytologist. doi:10.1111/nph.16866

  • Hilty, J., Pook, C., & Leuzinger, S. (2019). Water relations determine short time leaf growth patterns in the mangrove Avicennia marina (Forssk.) Vierh.. Plant, Cell and Environment, 42(2), 527-535. doi:10.1111/pce.13435

  • Fatichi, S., Pappas, C., Zscheischler, J., & Leuzinger, S. (2019). Modelling carbon sources and sinks in terrestrial vegetation. New Phytologist, 221(2), 652-668. doi:10.1111/nph.15451

  • Hovenden, M. J., Leuzinger, S., Newton, P. C. D., Fletcher, A., Fatichi, S., Lüscher, A., . . . Langley, J. A. (2019). Globally consistent influences of seasonal precipitation limit grassland biomass response to elevated CO₂. Nature Plants, 5(2), 167-173. doi:10.1038/s41477-018-0356-x

  • Donnellan Barraclough, A., Zweifel, R., Cusens, J., & Leuzinger, S. (2019). Disentangling the net: Concomitant xylem and over-bark size measurements reveal the phloem-generated turgor signal behind daytime stem swelling in the mangrove Avicennia marina. Functional Plant Biology, 46(5), 393-406. doi:10.1071/FP18155

  • Bader, M. K. -F., & Leuzinger, S. (2019). Hydraulic coupling of a leafless kauri tree remnant to conspecific hosts. iScience, 19, 1238-1247. doi:10.1016/j.isci.2019.05.009

  • Song, J., Wan, S., Piao, S., Knapp, A. K., Classen, A. T., Vicca, S., . . . Zheng, M. (2019). A meta-analysis of 1,119 manipulative experiments on terrestrial carbon-cycling responses to global change. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 3(9), 1309-1320. doi:10.1038/s41559-019-0958-3

  • Leuzinger, S., Borrelle, S. B., & Jarvis, R. M. (2019). Improving climate-change literacy and science communication through smart device apps. Frontiers in Education, 4. doi:10.3389/feduc.2019.00138

  • Barraclough, A. D., Zweifel, R., Cusens, J., & Leuzinger, S. (2018). Daytime stem swelling and seasonal reversal in the peristaltic depletion of stored water along the stem of Avicennia marina (Forssk.) Vierh. Tree Physiology, 38(7). doi:10.1093/treephys/tpy021

  • Thoresen, J. J., Towns, D., Leuzinger, S., Durrett, M., Mulder, C. P. H., & Wardle, D. A. (2017). Invasive rodents have multiple indirect effects on seabird island invertebrate food web structure. Ecological Applications, 27(4). doi:10.1002/eap.1513

  • Nishar, A., Bader, M. K. -F., O'Gorman, E. J., Deng, J., Breen, B., & Leuzinger, S. (2017). Temperature effects on biomass and regeneration of vegetation in a geothermal area. Frontiers in Plant Science, 8. doi:10.3389/fpls.2017.00249

  • Lacap-Bugler, D. C., Lee, C. Y., Archer, S., Gillman, L. N., Lau, M. C. Y., Leuzinger, S., . . . Pointing, S. B. (2017). Global diversity of desert hypolithic cyanobacteria. Frontiers in Microbiology, 8. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2017.00867

  • Gómez-Gallego, M., Bader, M. K. -F., Scott, P. M., Leuzinger, S., & Williams, N. M. (2017). Phytophthora pluvialis studies on douglas-fir require Swiss needle cast suppression. Plant Disease, 101(7). doi:10.1094/PDIS-12-16-1738-RE

  • Tran, P., Gritcan, I., Cusens, J., Alfaro, A. C., & Leuzinger, S. (2016). Biomass and nutrient composition of temperate mangroves (Avicennia marina var. australasica) in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research. doi:10.1080/00288330.2016.1260604

  • Fatichi, S., Leuzinger, S., Paschalis, A., Adam Langley, J., Donnellan Barraclough, A., & Hovenden, M. J. (2016). Partitioning direct and indirect effects reveals the response of water-limited ecosystems to elevated CO2. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(45). doi:10.1073/pnas.1605036113

  • Bader, M. K. -F., 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. doi:10.1016/j.envexpbot.2015.12.005

  • Körner, C., Leuzinger, S., Riedl, S., Siegwolf, R. T., & Streule, L. (2016). Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope signals for an entire alpine flora, based on herbarium samples. Alpine Botany. doi:10.1007/s00035-016-0170-x

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

  • Gritcan, I., Duxbury, M., Leuzinger, S., & Alfaro, A. C. (2016). Leaf stable isotope and nutrient status of temperate mangroves as ecological indicators to assess anthropogenic activity and recovery from Eutrophication. Frontiers in Plant Science, 7. doi:10.3389/fpls.2016.01922

  • Reyer, C. P. O., Brouwers, N., Rammig, A., Brook, B. W., Epila, J., Grant, R. F., . . . Villela, D. M. (2015). Forest resilience and tipping points at different spatio-temporal scales: Approaches and challenges. Journal of Ecology, 103(1). doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12337

  • Gornish, E. S., & Leuzinger, S. (2015). Across the horizon: Scale effects in global change research.. AoB Plants. doi:10.1093/aobpla/plv079

  • Leuzinger, S., Fatichi, S., Cusens, J., Niklaus, P. A., Körner, C., & Niklaus, P. (2015). The 'island effect' in terrestrial global change experiments: A problem with no solution?. AoB Plants, 7(1). doi:10.1093/aobpla/plv092

  • Pointing, S., Budel, B., Convey, P., Gillman, L. N., Koerner., Leuzinger, S., & Vincent, W. (2015). Biogeography of photoautotrophs in the high polar biome. Frontiers in Plant Science, 6. doi:10.3389/fpls.2015.00692

  • Fatichi, S., Leuzinger, S., & Körner, C. (2014). Moving beyond photosynthesis: from carbon source to sink-driven vegetation modeling. New Phytologist, 201(4). doi:10.1111/nph.12614

  • Mildner, M., Bader, M. K. -F., Leuzinger, S., Siegwolf, R. T. W., & Körner, C. (2014). Long-term ¹³C labeling provides evidence for temporal and spatial carbon allocation patterns in mature Picea abies. Oecologia, 175(3). doi:10.1007/s00442-014-2935-5

  • O'Brien, M. J., Leuzinger, S., Philipson, C. D., Tay, J., & Hector, A. (2014). Drought survival of tropical tree seedlings enhanced by non-structural carbohydrate levels. Nature Climate Change, 4. doi:10.1038/nclimate2281

  • Reyer, C. P., Leuzinger, S., Rammig, A., Wolf, A., Bartholomeus, R. P., Bonfante, A., . . . Pereira, M. (2013). A plant's perspective of extremes: Terrestrial plant responses to changing climatic variability. Global Change Biology, 19(1). doi:10.1111/gcb.12023

  • Leuzinger, S., Manusch, C., Bugmann, H., & Wolf, A. (2013). A sink-limited growth model improves biomass estimation along boreal and alpine tree lines. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 22(8). doi:10.1111/geb.12047

  • Elkin, C., Gutiérrez, A. G., 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(6). doi:10.1111/gcb.12156

  • Leuzinger, S., & Hättenschwiler, S. (2013). Beyond global change: Lessons from 25 years of CO2 research. Oecologia, 171(3). doi:10.1007/s00442-012-2584-5

  • 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, 174-175.

  • 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, 118(2). doi:10.1002/jgrg.20035

  • Bader, M. K. -F., Leuzinger, S., Keel, S. G., Siegwolf, R. T. W., 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(6). doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12149

  • Dieleman, W. I. J., Vicca, S., Dijkstra, F. A., Hagedorn, F., Hovenden, M. J., Larsen, K. S., . . . Leuzinger, S. (2012). Simple additive effects are rare: A quantitative review of plant biomass and soil process responses to combined manipulations of CO2 and temperature. Global Change Biology, 18(9). doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2012.02745.x

  • Beier, C., Beierkuhnlein, C., Wohlgemuth, T., Penuelas, J., Emmet, B., Korner, C., . . . Hansen, K. (2012). Precipitation manipulation experiments - challenges and recommendations for the future. Ecology Letters, 15(8), 899-911. doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2012.01793.x

  • Leuzinger McClintock, S., Willis, B. L., & Anthony, K. R. N. (2012). Energy allocation in a reef coral under varying resource availability. Marine Biology, 159(1).

  • Leuzinger, S., & Bader, M. K. (2012). Experimental vs. modeled water use in mature Norway spruce (Picea abies) exposed to elevated CO₂. Frontiers in Plant Science, 3. doi:10.3389/fpls.2012.00229

  • Leuzinger, S., & Quinn Thomas, R. (2011). How do we improve Earth system models? Integrating Earth system models, ecosystem models, experiments and long-term data. 1st INTERFACE workshop, Captiva Island, FL, USA, 28 February-3 March 2011.. New Phytol, 191(1). doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.2011.03778.x

  • Leuzinger, S., Hartmann, A., & Körner, C. (2011). Water relations of climbing ivy in a temperate forest. Planta, 233(6). doi:10.1007/s00425-011-1363-6

  • 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(5). doi:10.1016/j.tree.2011.02.011

  • Asshoff, R., Riedl, S., & Leuzinger, S. (2011). Erratum: Towards a better understanding of carbon flux (Journal of Biological Education (2010) 44:4 (180-184) DOI: 10.1080/00219266.2010.9656218). Journal of Biological Education, 45(1). doi:10.1080/00219266.2011.552223

  • Leuzinger, S., & Quinn Thomas, R. (2011). How do we improve Earth system models? Integrating Earth system models, ecosystem models, experiments and long-term data. New Phytologist, 191(1). Retrieved from

  • 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(9). doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2010.05.028

  • Leuzinger, S., Vogt, R., & Körner, C. (2010). Tree surface temperature in an urban environment. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 150(1). doi:10.1016/j.agrformet.2009.08.006

  • 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(1). Retrieved from

  • Asshoff, R., Riedl, S., & Leuzinger, S. (2010). Towards a better understanding of carbon flux. Journal of Biological Education, 44(4), 175-179. doi:10.1080/00219266.2010.9656218

  • Keel, S. G., Pepin, S., Leuzinger, S., & Körner, C. (2007). Erratum: Stomatal conductance in mature deciduous forest trees exposed to elevated CO<inf>2</inf> (Trees - Structure and Function DOI: 10.1007/s00468-006-0106-y). Trees - Structure and Function, 21(2), 261. doi:10.1007/s00468-007-0122-6

  • Leuzinger, S., & Körner, C. (2007). Water savings in mature deciduous forest trees under elevated CO₂. Global Change Biology, 13(12), 2498-2508. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2007.01467.x

  • Leuzinger, S., & Körner, C. (2007). Tree species diversity affects canopy leaf temperatures in a mature temperate forest. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 146(1-2), 29-37. doi:10.1016/j.agrformet.2007.05.007

  • Keel, S. G., Pepin, S., Leuzinger, S., & Körner, C. (2007). Stomatal conductance in mature deciduous forest trees exposed to elevated CO₂. Trees - Structure and Function, 21(2). doi:10.1007/s00468-006-0106-y

  • Leuzinger, S., Zotz, G., Asshoff, R., & Körner, C. (2005). Responses of deciduous forest trees to severe drought in Central Europe. Tree Physiology: an international botanical journal, 25(6), 641-650. doi:10.1093/treephys/25.6.641

  • Leuzinger, S., Anthony, K. R. N., & Willis, B. L. (2003). Reproductive energy investment in corals: scaling with module size. Oecologia, 136(4), 524-531. doi:10.1007/s00442-003-1305-5

Book chapters

  • Borrelle, S., Frielick, S., Asshoff, R., & Leuzinger, S. (2016). The global change app: The creative transformation. In L. Briz-Ponce, J. Juanes-Mendez, & F. García-Peñalvo (Eds.), Handbook of research on mobile devices and applications in higher education settings (pp. 140-161). IGI Global. Retrieved from

Conference contributions

  • Ravi, S., Leuzinger, S., & Macinnes-Ng, C. (2015). The role of nonstructural carbohydrates in assessing plant physiological responses to drought. In New Zealand Marine Sciences Society Conference. Auckland.

  • Cusens, J., Leuzinger, S., & Donnellan, A. M. (2015). When do trees grow? High resolution stem growth in mangroves. In New Zealand Marine Sciences Society Conference. Auckland.

  • Leuzinger, S., & Fatichi, S. (2014). Modelling plant growth under elevated CO2: An experimenter's perspective. In INTERFACE workshop on: Using results from global change experiments to inform land model development and calibration. Beijing.

  • Leuzinger, S., Fatichi, S., Manusch, C., Wolf, A., Brugmann, H., & Korner, C. (2014). From source- to sink limited vegetation modelling. In Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting. California.

  • Donnellan-Barraclough, A., Leuzinger, S., & Cusens, J. (2014). Switching directions: Testing foliar water uptake, reverse flow and hydraulic redistribution in mangrove forests. In New Zealand Ecological Society Conference. Palmerston North.

  • Cusens, J., Donnellan-Barraclough, A., & Leuzinger, S. (2014). When do trees grow? High-resolution growth in an outdoor lab. In New Zealand Ecological Society Conference. Palmerston North.

  • Ravi, S., & Leuzinger, S. (2014). The role of non-structural carbohydrates in assessing plant physiological responses to drought. In New Zealand Ecological Society Conference. Palmerston North.

  • Hoffmann, K., Donnellan-Barraclough, A., Cusens, J., & Leuzinger, S. (2014). A novel method of measuring diurnal leaf growth using a thermal camera. In New Zealand Ecological Society Conference. Palmerston North.

  • Alfaro, A. C., Campbell, K., Leuzinger, S., Bowen, M., Strachan, L., Duxbury, M., . . . Leopold, A. (2013). Overview of current research on New Zealand mangrove ecosystems. In Aquatic Science at the Interface Conference 2013. Hamilton.

  • Pappas, C., Fatichi, S., Leuzinger, S., & Burlando, P. (2013). Structural and parameterization issues of dynamic global vegetation models for long-term predictions. In Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 15. Vienna. Retrieved from

  • Fatichi, S., & Leuzinger, S. (2013). On the limits and capability of modeling water, energy and carbon fluxes in deciduous forest exposed to elevated CO2. In Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 15. Vienna. Retrieved from

Other outputs

  • Leuzinger, S., Bigler, C., Wolf, A., & Körner, C. (2009). Poor methodology for predicting large-scale tree die-off.. In Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (Iss. 38). doi:10.1073/pnas.0908053106

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