• Study design

In order to assess the influence of land use and climate on the Kilimanjaro ecosystem, the KiLi project established 60 study sites. The study sites span an altitudinal range of 900 to 4600 m asl and represent the 12 major land cover types of the area. Six land cover types comprise natural vegetation from tropical savannah (at the lower slopes of the Kilimanjaro) to alpine vegetation (at an altitude of 4000-4600 m asl), the remaining six burned and logged forests, traditional agroforestry systems and managed plantations. Each land cover type is represented by five replicate study sites summing up to a total of 60 study sites. Spatial distances among study sites of the same land cover type are large, maximizing the spatial independence of the data.

study design

Schematic representation of the general study design of the KiLi project. The KiLi project collects data in the 12 major ecosystem types of the Kilimanjaro, 6 natural (A-F, squares) and 6 disturbed ecosystems (G-L, other symbols). 12 larger symbols represent the focal study plots (one for each ecosystem type) on which more elaborate measurements and experiments are conducted. A: Colline savannah, B: submontane-lower montane rainforest, C: Camphor Forest, D: Podocarpus forest, E: Erica Forest, F: alpine Helichrysum vegetation; G: Erica forest shifted to lower elevations due to disturbance, H: logged Camphor forest, I: meadow, J: Chagga homegarden, K: coffee plantation, L: maize field. All ecosystem types are represented by 5 replicate study plots.

• Study sites

A core aspect of the KiLi project is that all scientists involved gather their data on the same study sites, which allows us to integrate all data sets in order to derive a synthetic view on the influence of land use and climate on the Kilimanjaro ecosystem. The study sites have a size of 2500 m² (50 x 50 m²). Climate variables, soil properties, and nutrient status, regulation of water and carbon fluxes, trace gas emissions, primary productivity, functional diversity of plants, birds, bats, soil arthropods, selected insect taxa and related interactions, i.e. decomposition, pollination, seed dispersal, and predation are quantified. Depending on the field study effort these variables will be recorded in total or in part for all 60 study plots. For each subproject 12 focal plots among the 60 study plots well serve for more elaborated measurements and experiments to quantify causal relationships between climate, land cover change, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Focal plots have an extent of 10000 m² (100x100 m²).