Dr Luitgard Schwendenmann

BSc (Diplom FH) (University of Applied Sciences Bingen), MSc (University of Karlsruhe), Dr.rer.nat. (University of Göttingen)

Profile Image
Senior Lecturer


I received a BSc in Environmental Science (University of Applied Sciences Bingen, Germany) where I studied the impact of logging on soil chemical and physical characteristics in the Peace River Lowland, Canada. For my MSc (Resources Engineering, University of Karlsruhe, Germany) I investigated sediment nutrient flow in a mangrove ecosystem in Brazil. For my PhD (Landscape Ecology, University of Goettingen, Germany) I studied the belowground carbon dynamics of a tropical forest in Costa Rica. After my PhD I was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Wyoming (USA) where I investigated the impact of land use change on soil carbon cycling and trace gas fluxes in Panama. I was a Research Fellow at the University of Goettingen, Germany, investigating the water uptake patterns in tree plantations and cacao agroforest systems in Panama and Indonesia. I moved to the University of Auckland in 2010. 

Research | Current

I am an ecosystem ecologist specialising in the cycling of carbon and water in the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. Broadly my research group focuses on understanding:

  • the patterns of carbon and water dynamics in forest and native grassland ecosystems, coastal wetlands (mangroves) and urban areas
  • how abiotic and biotic drivers and responses to environmental changes (land-cover change, global warming) affect element cycling within and among ecosystems
  • how plant species identity and biodiversity influence ecosystem functions
  • the linkages between plant-water interactions
  • the characteristics and drivers of the urban carbon cycle

We utilize a variety of approaches and tools to address these questions, including field-based empirical science, laboratory studies, stable isotope (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen), biogeochemistry, and remote sensing.

Carbon Dynamics |  Ecosystem Ecology | Global Change | Stable Isotope Ecology | Terrestrial Biogeochemistry | Tropical Forest Ecology | Urban Ecosystems


Ongoing projects include:

Temperate mangroves and ecosystem functioning, New Zealand

Impacts of leaf cutter ants on biogeochemical cycling in tropical forests, Costa Rica

Plant diversity and soil carbon dynamics in a tropical tree plantation, Panama

Quantifying anthropogenic and biogenic CO2 fluxes, Auckland


MSc/PhD topics:

Effects of plant pathogens (and forest dieback) on soil carbon/nitrogen availability and dissolved organic carbon chemistry

Mangrove expansion, blue carbon storage, biogeochemical processes and greenhouse gas emissions

osystem functioning of urban forests

Organic matter composition and terrestrial‐aquatic linkages in urban catchments


Academic visitors:

Leonardo Paolini (2017), Research Scientist, Urban Ecosystem Dynamics, Argentinean National Council for Research and Technology (CONICET) & Director of the Urban Ecosystems Research Center at Universidad del Norte Santo Tomas de Aquino, Argentina

Beate Michalzik (May-July 2015), Professor, Soil Science, Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena, Germany


Teaching | Current

The courses I contribute to are:

ENVSCI 201: Natural and Human Environmental Systems (Course co-ordinator)

ENVSCI 301: Environmental Science and Decision Making

EARTHSCI/GEOG 261: Climate, Hydrology and Biogeography

ENVSCI 701: Research Practice in Environmental Sciences

ENVSCI 733: Biodiversity Management and Conservation (Course co-ordinator)

ENVSCI 737: Applied Terrestrial Ecology


Postgraduate supervision

Current PhD students:

  • Suyadi (School of Environment) - Mangrove cover change and carbon storage (Supervisor)
  • Xiaoqing Li (School of Environment) - Soil carbon chemistry in grasslands and forests (Supervisor)
  • Mengjie Wei (School of Environment, Institue of Marine Science) - Processes driving coastal carbon storage and transformation (Supervisor)
  • Dinusha Jayathilake (Institute of Marine Science)  - Mapping marine biomes and estimating blue carbon (Co-supervisor)
  • Jianan Wang (School of Environment) - Estimation of vegetation carbon stocks in the urban-fringe using geospatial methods (Co-supervisor)
  • Dana Gardner (Civil and Environmental Engineering) - Dissolved organic matter transformations in Auckland’s drinking water reservoirs (Co-supervisor)

Current Master students:

  • Amber Simmonds (MSc Environmental Science) - Environmental benefits of urban trees (Supervisor)

Completed (since 2010):

  • Mark Harvey, PhD thesis submitted July 2017 (School of Environment) - Soil CO2 efflux in the Wairakei-Tauhara geothermal system (Co-supervisor)
  • Alicia Wong, 2017 (MSc, School of Environment) - Soil seedbank composition following fire disturbances (Co-supervisor)
  • Nikki Burrows, 2017 (MSc Sch,ool of Environment) - Greenhouse gas fluxes in riparian zones in agricultural systems (Co-supervisor)
  • Riki Taylor, 2017 (MSc, School of Environment) - Vegetation regeneration dynamics after fire (Co-supervisor)
  • Glauco Gavina, 2017 (MSc, Wageningen University, The Netherlands) - Spatial variability in soil CO2 efflux across three urban land use types (Co-supervisor)
  • Richard Bulmer, 2017 (PhD, Institute of Marine Science) - Mangrove ecosystem dynamics and clearance impacts (Co-supervisor)
  • Lena Weissert, 2016 (PhD, School of Environment) - The potential of urban vegetation to mitigate local carbon dioxide emissions (Supervisor)
  • Sebastiaan Kraaijeveld, 2016 (MSc, Utrecht University, The Netherlands) - Effects of invasive predator species on forest structure and carbon storage in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park in New Zealand (Co-supervisor)
  • Michael Meredyth Young, 2016 (MSc, School of Environment) - Effects of leaf cutter ants on dissolved organic matter chemistry (Supervisor)
  • Minzi Liu, 2016 (MSc, School of Environment) - Soil organic carbon stocks and soil chemistry under tussock-grassland and pine plantation (Supervisor)
  • Christine Guarino, 2016 (MSc, School of Environment) -  Effectivity of Helianthus annuus and Medicago sativa as copper and chromium accumulator (Co-supervisor)
  • Donald van der Westhuizen, 2014 (MSc, School of Environment) – Ecosystem processes in Phytophthora Taxon Agathis (PTA) affected Kauri stands (Supervisor)
  • Sarah Wyse, 2013 (PhD, School of Biological Sciences) - Kauri as an ecosystem engineer (Co-supervisor)
  • Inge Althuizen, 2013 (MSc, Radboud University, Nijmengen, The Netherlands) - Carbon stocks and fluxes in a Phytophtora affected Kauri forest (Supervisor)
  • Eileen Nowland-Walker, 2013 (MSc, School of Biological Science) - Invertebrate communities in Kauri fine woody debris (Supervisor)
  • Prabhir Correa, 2013 (MSc, School of Environment) – Near surface carbon dioxide within the urban area of Auckland (Co-supervisor)
  • Tobias Francis, 2013 (MSc, School of Environment) - Soil gas geochemistry in the southern Hauraki Goldfield (Co-supervisor)
  • Florence Thame, 2012 (MSc, School of Marine Science) - Macrobenthos and carbon cycling in mangrove forests (Supervisor)
  • Bharath Thakur, 2012 (MSc, School of Environment) – Mangrove nutrition along environmental gradients, Firth of Thames (Supervisor)
  • Ning Wang, 2012 (MSc, School of Environment) - Soil organic carbon stocks in urban forests, Auckland (Supervisor)
  • Taiga Yamamura, 2011 (Honors, Lincoln University) - Effects of species identity and plant diversity on the function and activity of soil microbial communities in a tropical tree plantation (Co-supervisor)

Areas of expertise

Ecosystem ecology; carbon, nutrient and water cycling; biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, forest biogeochemistry, biosphere-atmosphere interactions, urban ecosystems, tropical ecology, environmental change, stable isotopes


Committees/Professional groups/Services

2015 - Postgraduate and Masters Advisor, Environmental Science

2012 - 2014 Head of Discipline, Environmental Science


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Bulmer, R. H., Schwendenmann, L., Lohrer, A. M., & Lundquist, C. J. (2017). Sediment carbon and nutrient fluxes from cleared and intact temperate mangrove ecosystems and adjacent sandflats. Science of the Total Environment, 599-600, 1874-1884. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.05.139
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/34843
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Carolyn Lundquist
  • Macinnis-Ng, C., Wyse, S. V., Webb, T., Taylor, D., & Schwendenmann, L. (2017). Sustained carbon uptake in a mixed age southern conifer forest. Trees - Structure and Function, 31 (3), 967-980. 10.1007/s00468-017-1521-y
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Cate Macinnis-Ng
  • Weissert, L. F., Salmond, J. A., & Schwendenmann, L. (2017). Photosynthetic CO2 uptake and carbon sequestration potential of deciduous and evergreen tree species in an urban environment. Urban Ecosystems, 20 (3), 663-674. 10.1007/s11252-016-0627-0
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Lena Weissert, Jennifer Salmond
  • Berry, Z. C., Evaristo, J., Moore, G., Poca, M., Steppe, K., Verrot, L., ... Hervé-Fernández P (2017). The two water worlds hypothesis: Addressing multiple working hypotheses and proposing a way forward. Ecohydrology, e1843-e1843. 10.1002/eco.1843
  • Bulmer, R. H., Schwendenmann, L., & Lundquist, C. J. (2016). Allometric Models for Estimating Aboveground Biomass, Carbon and Nitrogen Stocks in Temperate Avicennia marina Forests. Wetlands, 36 (5), 841-848. 10.1007/s13157-016-0793-0
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/31835
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Carolyn Lundquist
  • Weissert, L. F., Salmond, J. A., Turnbull, J. C., & Schwendenmann, L. (2016). Temporal variability in the sources and fluxes of CO2 in a residential area in an evergreen subtropical city. Atmospheric Environment, 143, 164-176. 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.08.044
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/30593
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Lena Weissert, Jennifer Salmond
  • Bulmer, R. H., Schwendenmann, L., & Lundquist, C. J. (2016). Carbon and Nitrogen Stocks and Below-Ground Allometry in Temperate Mangroves. Frontiers in Marine Science, 3.10.3389/fmars.2016.00150
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/30595
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Carolyn Lundquist
  • Schwendenmann, L., & Macinnis-Ng, C. (2016). Soil CO2 efflux in an old-growth southern conifer forest (Agathis australis) – magnitude, components and controls. SOIL, 2 (3), 403-419. 10.5194/soil-2-403-2016
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/30578
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Cate Macinnis-Ng


Contact details

Primary location

SCIENCE CENTRE 302 - Bldg 302
New Zealand

Web links