Dr Luitgard Schwendenmann

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

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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:

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

Urban forests and ecosystem processes

Effects of grazing and post-grazing restoration on soil carbon, Northland Region


Academic visitors:

Yuwu Li (2018), Associate Professor, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

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) - 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, School 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
  • 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). 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
  • 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

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