Xiaojuan Liu, Professor


Institute of Botany
Chinese Academy of Sciences
20 Nanxincun, Xiangshan

Research Areas

My current research focus is understanding the mechanisms of biodiversity maintenance and biodiversity and ecosystem functioning at multiple scales. I am particularly interested in: 1) The dynamic of tree demographic rates (growth and survival); 2) Forest biodiversity and ecosystem functioning; 3) Multitrophic diversity and multifunctionality across different ecosystems.

I am always interested in having postdocs and PhDs join my team. Please email me ( with your CV and a letter of interest to discuss the research interests and funding opportunities.


Ph.D.   2006-2012    Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
B.A.     2002-2006    The Colleague of Forestry, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing, China


Work Experience

2023-            Professor, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of  Sciences, Beijing, China
2018-2022    Associate Professor, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of  Sciences, Beijing, China
2016-2017    Visiting scientist, Department of Biology, University of  Maryland, U.S.A
2013-2015    Postdoc, Institute of Evolutionary Biology and  Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Switzerland
2012-2017    Assistant professor, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of  Sciences, Beijing, China

Professional Experience

2017-            Leader of the management group, BEF-China experiment (
2019-            Journal of Ecology, Associate Editor
2022-            Journal of Plant Ecology, Associate Editor
2020-2021    Basic and Applied Ecology, Guest Editor


Selected publication

Li, Y., B. Schmid, A. Schuldt, S. Li, M-Q. Wang, F. Fornoff, M. Staab, P-F. Guo, P. Anttonen, D. Chesters, H. Bruelheide, C-D, Zhu, K. P. Ma* and X. J. Liu*. 2023. Multitrophic arthropod diversity mediates tree diversity effects on primary productivity. Nature Ecology Evolution7: 832-840.

Staab, M., S. Pietsch, H. R. Yan, N. Blüthgen, A. P. Cheng, Y. Li, N. L. Zhang and X. J. Liu*. 2023. Dear neighbor: trees with extrafloral nectaries facilitate defense and growth of adjacent undefended trees. Ecologye4057.

Zhang, L., X. J. Liu*, Z. H. Sun, W. S. Bu, F. J. Bongers, X. Y. Song, J. Y, Z. K. Sun, Y. Li, S. Li, M. C, K. P. Ma* and N. G. Swenson. 2023. Functional trait space and redundancy of plant communities decrease toward cold temperature at high altitudes in Southwest China. Science China Life Sciences. 66: 376-384.

Tang T., N. L. Zhang, F. J. Bongers, M. Staab, A. Schuldt, F. Fornoff, H. Lin, J. Cavender-Bares, A. Hipp, S. Li, Y. Liang, B. C. Han, A. Klein, H. Bruelheide, W. Durka, B. Schmid*, K. P. Ma* and X. J. Liu*. 2022. Tree species and genetic diversity increase productivity via functional diversity and trophic feedbacks. eLife. 11: e78703.

Liu, X. J., Y. Y. Huang, L. Chen, S. Li, F. J. Bongers, N. Castro-Izaguirre, Y. Liang, B. Yang, Y. X. Chen, F. Schnabel, T. Tang, Y. J. Xue, S. Trogisch, M. Staab, H. Bruelheide, B. Schmid* and K. P. Ma*. 2022. Species richness, functional traits and climate interactively affect tree survival in a large forest biodiversity experiment. Journal of Ecology 110: 2522-2531.

Yan, G. Y., F. J. Bongers, S. Trogisch, Y. Li, G. K. Chen, H. R. Yan, X. L. Deng, K. P. Ma and X. J. Liu*. 2022. Climate and mycorrhizae mediate the relationship of tree species diversity and carbon stocks in subtropical forests. Journal of Ecology 110: 2462-2474.

Bongers, F. J., B. Schmid, H. Bruelheide, F. Bongers, S. Li, G. von Oheimb, Y. Li, A. P. Cheng, K. P. Ma* and X. J. Liu*. 2021. Functional diversity effects on productivity increase with age in a forest biodiversity experiment. Nature Ecology & Evolution 5:1594-1603.

Schnabel, F.#, *, X. J. Liu#, *, M. Kunz*, K. E. Barry, F. J. Bongers, H. Bruelheide, A. Fichtner, W. Härdtle, S. Li, C.-T. Pfaff, B. Schmid, J. A. Schwarz, Z. Y. Tang, B. Yang, J. Bauhus, G. v. Oheimb, K. P. Ma and C. Wirth. 2021. Species richness stabilizes productivity via asynchrony and drought-tolerance diversity in a large-scale tree biodiversity experiment. Science Advances 7:eabk1643.

Ma, L. W., F. J. Bongers, S. Li, T. Tang, B. Yang, K. P. Ma and X. J. Liu*. 2021. Species identity and composition effects on community productivity in a subtropical forest. Basic and Applied Ecology 55:87-97.

Trogisch, S.*, X. J. Liu*, G. Rutten, K. Xue*, J. Bauhus, U. Brose, W. Bu, S. Cesarz, D. Chesters, J. Connolly, X. Y. Cui, N. Eisenhauer, L. D. Guo, S. Haider, W. Härdtle, M. Kunz, L. L. Liu, Z. Q. Ma, S. Neumann, W. G. Sang, A. Schuldt, Z. Y. Tang, N. M. van Dam, G. von Oheimb, M.-Q. Wang, S. P. Wang, A. Weinhold, C. Wirth, T. Wubet, X. L. Xu, B. Yang, N. L. Zhang, C.-D. Zhu, K. P. Ma, Y. F. Wang and H. Bruelheide. 2021. The significance of tree-tree interactions for forest ecosystem functioning. Basic and Applied Ecology 55:33-52.

Bongers, F. J., B. Schmid, W. Durka, S. Li, H. Bruelheide, C. Z. Hahn, H. R. Yan, K. P. Ma* and X. J. Liu*. 2020. Genetic richness affects trait variation but not community productivity in a tree diversity experiment. New Phytologist 227: 744-756

Bongers, F. J., B. Schmid, Z. Sun, Y. Li, W. Härdtle, G. von Oheimb, Y. Li, S. Li, M. Staab, K. P. Ma* and X. J. Liu*. 2020. Growth–trait relationships in subtropical forest are stronger at higher diversity. Journal of Ecology 108:256-266.

Liu, X. J.#, S. Trogisch#, J.-S. He, P. A. Niklaus, H. Bruelheide, Z. Y. Tang, A. Erfmeier, M. Scherer-Lorenzen, K. A. Pietsch, B. Yang, P. Kühn, T. Scholten, Y. Y. Huang, C. Wang, M. Staab, K. N. Leppert, C. Wirth*, B. Schmid* and K. P. Ma*. 2018. Tree species richness increases ecosystem carbon storage in subtropical forests. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 285: 20181240.

Liu, X. J., N. G. Swenson, D. M. Lin, X. C. Mi, M. N. Umaña, B. Schmid and K. P. Ma*. 2016. Linking individual-level functional traits to tree growth in a subtropical forest. Ecology 97:2396-2405.

Liu, X. J. and K. P. Ma*. 2015. Plant Functional Traits—Concepts, Applications and Future Directions. Scientia Sinica Vitae 45:325-339. (In Chinese with English abstract).

Liu, X. J., N. G. Swenson, J. L. Zhang and K. P. Ma*. 2013. The environment and space, not phylogeny, determine trait dispersion in a subtropical forest. Functional Ecology 27:264-272.

Liu, X. J., N. G. Swenson, S. J. Wright, L. W. Zhang, K. Song, Y. J. Du, J. L. Zhang, X. C. Mi, H. B. Ren and K. P. Ma*. 2012. Covariation in Plant Functional Traits and Soil Fertility within Two Species-Rich Forests. PLoS ONE 7: e34767.


Collaborative publication

Staab, M., X. J. Liu, T. Assmann, H. Bruelheide, F. Buscot, W. Durka, A. Erfmeier, A.-M. Klein, K. P. Ma, S. Michalski, T. Wubet, B. Schmid, and A. Schuldt. 2021. Tree phylogenetic diversity structures multitrophic communities. Functional Ecology 35:521-534.

Mi, X. C., Z. H. Sun, Y. F. Song, X. J. Liu, J. Yang, J. J. Wu, X. Q. Ci, J. Li, L. X. Lin, M. Cao, and K. P. Ma. 2021. Rare tree species have narrow environmental but not functional niches. Functional Ecology 35:511-520.

Trogisch, S., X. J. Liu, G. Rutten, and H. Bruelheide. 2021. Tree diversity effects on ecosystem functioning–Introduction. Basic and Applied Ecology 55:1-5.

Wang, Y. Q., M. W. Cadotte, J. H. Chen, X. C. Mi, H. B. Ren, X. J. Liu, M. J. Yu, J. T. Zhang, and K. P. Ma. 2020. Neighborhood interactions on seedling survival were greatly altered following an extreme winter storm. Forest Ecology and Management 461:117940.

Li, Y., W. K. Bao, F. Bongers, B. Chen, G. K. Chen, K. Guo, M. X. Jiang, J. S. Lai, D. M. Lin, C. J. Liu, X. J. Liu, Y. Liu, X. C. Mi, X. J. Tian, X. H. Wang, W. B. Xu, J. H. Yan, B. Yang, Y. R. Zheng, and K. P. Ma. 2019a. Drivers of tree carbon storage in subtropical forests. Science of the Total Environment 654:684-693.

Li, Y., H. Bruelheide, T. Scholten, B. Schmid, Z. K. Sun, N. L. Zhang, W. S. Bu, X. J. Liu, and K. P. Ma. 2019b. Early positive effects of tree species richness on soil organic carbon accumulation in a large-scale forest biodiversity experiment. Journal of Plant Ecology 12:882-893.

Chen, L., Y. Q. Wang, X. C. Mi, X. J. Liu, H. B. Ren, J. H. Chen, K. P. Ma, and N. J. B. Kraft. 2019. Neighborhood effects explain increasing asynchronous seedling survival in a subtropical forest. Ecology 100:e02821.

Huang, Y. Y., Y. X. Chen, N. Castro-Izaguirre, M. Baruffol, M. Brezzi, A. Lang, Y. Li, W. Härdtle, G. von Oheimb, X. F. Yang, X. J. Liu, K. Q. Pei, S. Both, B. Yang, D. Eichenberg, T. Assmann, J. Bauhus, T. Behrens, F. Buscot, X.-Y. Chen, D. Chesters, B.-Y. Ding, W. Durka, A. Erfmeier, J. Y. Fang, M. Fischer, L.-D. Guo, D. L. Guo, J. L. M. Gutknecht, J.-S. He, C.-L. He, A. Hector, L. Hönig, R.-Y. Hu, A.-M. Klein, P. Kühn, Y. Liang, S. Li, S. Michalski, M. Scherer-Lorenzen, K. Schmidt, T. Scholten, A. Schuldt, X. Z. Shi, M.-Z. Tan, Z. Y. Tang, S. Trogisch, Z. W. Wang, E. Welk, C. Wirth, T. Wubet, W. H. Xiang, M. J. Yu, X.-D. Yu, J. Y. Zhang, S. R. Zhang, N. L. Zhang, H.-Z. Zhou, C.-D. Zhu, L. Zhu, H. Bruelheide, K. P. Ma, P. A. Niklaus, and B. Schmid. 2018. Impacts of species richness on productivity in a large-scale subtropical forest experiment. Science 362:80-83.

Schuldt, A., T. Assmann, M. Brezzi, F. Buscot, D. Eichenberg, J. Gutknecht, W. Hardtle, J. S. He, A. M. Klein, P. Kuhn, X. J. Liu, K. P. Ma, P. A. Niklaus, K. A. Pietsch, W. Purahong, M. Scherer-Lorenzen, B. Schmid, T. Scholten, M. Staab, Z. Y. Tang, S. Trogisch, G. von Oheimb, C. Wirth, T. Wubet, C. D. Zhu, and H. Bruelheide. 2018. Biodiversity across trophic levels drives multifunctionality in highly diverse forests. Nature Communications 9.2989

Han, B. C., M. N. Umana, X. C. Mi, X. J. Liu, L. Chen, Y. Q. Wang, Y. Liang, W. Wei, and K. P. Ma. 2017. The role of transcriptomes linked with responses to light environment on seedling mortality in a subtropical forest, China. Journal of Ecology 105:592-601.

Bu, W. S., B. Schmid, X. J. Liu, Y. Li, W. Hardtle, G. von Oheimb, Y. Liang, Z. K. Sun, Y. Y. Huang, H. Bruelheide, and K. P. Ma. 2017. Interspecific and intraspecific variation in specific root length drives aboveground biodiversity effects in young experimental forest stands. Journal of Plant Ecology 10:158-169.

Ma, K. P., J. S. He, H. Bruelheide, A. M. Klein, X. J. Liu, and B. Schmid. 2017. Biodiversity-ecosystem functioning research in Chinese subtropical forests. Journal of Plant Ecology 10:1-3.

Sun, Z., X. J. Liu, B. Schmid, H. Bruelheide, W. S. Bu, and K. P. Ma. 2017. Positive effects of tree species richness on fine-root production in a subtropical forest in SE-China. Journal of Plant Ecology 10:146-157.

Trogisch, S., A. Schuldt, J. Bauhus, J. A. Blum, S. Both, F. Buscot, N. Castro-Izaguirre, D. Chesters, W. Durka, D. Eichenberg, A. Erfmeier, M. Fischer, C. Geißler, M. S. Germany, P. Goebes, J. Gutknecht, C. Z. Hahn, S. Haider, W. Härdtle, J.-S. He, A. Hector, L. Hönig, Y. Y. Huang, A.-M. Klein, P. Kühn, M. Kunz, K. N. Leppert, Y. Li, X. J. Liu, P. A. Niklaus, Z. Q. Pei, K. A. Pietsch, R. Prinz, T. Proß, M. Scherer-Lorenzen, K. Schmidt, T. Scholten, S. Seitz, Z. S. Song, M. Staab, G. von Oheimb, C. Weißbecker, E. Welk, C. Wirth, T. Wubet, B. Yang, X. F. Yang, C.-D. Zhu, B. Schmid, K. P. Ma, and H. Bruelheide. 2017. Toward a methodical framework for comprehensively assessing forest multifunctionality. Ecology and Evolution 7:10652-10674.

Umana, M. N., X. C. Mi, M. Cao, B. J. Enquist, Z. Q. Hao, R. Howe, Y. Iida, D. Johnson, L. X. Lin, X. J. Liu, K. P. Ma, I. F. Sun, J. Thompson, M. Uriarte, X. G. Wang, A. Wolf, J. Yang, J. K. Zimmerman, and N. G. Swenson. 2017. The role of functional uniqueness and spatial aggregation in explaining rarity in trees. Global Ecology and Biogeography 26:777-786.

Bruelheide, H., K. Nadrowski, T. Assmann, J. Bauhus, S. Both, F. Buscot, X. Y. Chen, B. Y. Ding, W. Durka, A. Erfmeier, J. L. M. Gutknecht, D. L. Guo, L. D. Guo, W. Hardtle, J. S. He, A. M. Klein, P. Kuhn, Y. Liang, X. J. Liu, S. Michalski, P. A. Niklaus, K. Q. Pei, M. Scherer-Lorenzen, T. Scholten, A. Schuldt, G. Seidler, S. Trogisch, G. von Oheimb, E. Welk, C. Wirth, T. Wubet, X. F. Yang, M. J. Yu, S. R. Zhang, H. Z. Zhou, M. Fischer, K. P. Ma, and B. Schmid. 2014. Designing forest biodiversity experiments: general considerations illustrated by a new large experiment in subtropical China. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 5:74-89.

Nadrowski, K., K. Pietsch, M. Baruffol, S. Both, J. Gutknecht, H. Bruelheide, H. Heklau, A. Kahl, T. Kahl, P. Niklaus, W. Krober, X. J. Liu, X. C. Mi, S. Michalski, G. von Oheimb, O. Purschke, B. Schmid, T. Fang, E. Welk, and C. Wirth. 2014. Tree Species Traits but Not Diversity Mitigate Stem Breakage in a Subtropical Forest following a Rare and Extreme Ice Storm. Plos One 9(5): e96022

Nadrowski, K., S. Ratcliffe, G. Bönisch, H. Bruelheide, J. Kattge, X. J. Liu, L. Maicher, X. C. Mi, M. Prilop, D. Seifarth, K. Welter, S. Windisch, and C. Wirth. 2013. Harmonizing, annotating and sharing data in biodiversity–ecosystem functioning research. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 4:201-205.

Zhang, J. L., N. G. Swenson, S. B. Chen, X. J. Liu, Z. S. Li, J. H. Huang, X. C. Mi, and K. P. Ma. 2013. Phylogenetic beta diversity in tropical forests: Implications for the roles of geographical and environmental distance. Journal of Systematics and Evolution 51:71-85.

Swenson, N. G., D. L. Erickson, X. C. Mi, N. A. Bourg, J. Forero-Montana, X. J. Ge, R. Howe, J. K. Lake, X. J. Liu, K. P. Ma, N. C. Pei, J. Thompson, M. Uriarte, A. Wolf, S. J. Wright, W. H. Ye, J. L. Zhang, J. K. Zimmerman, and W. J. Kress. 2012. Phylogenetic and functional alpha and beta diversity in temperate and tropical tree communities. Ecology 93:S112-S125.

Du, Y. J., X. C. Mi, X. J. Liu, and K. P. Ma. 2012. The effects of ice storm on seed rain and seed limitation in an evergreen broad-leaved forest in east China. Acta Oecologica 39:87-93.

Du, Y. J., X. C. Mi, X. J. Liu, L. Chen, and K. P. Ma. 2009. Seed dispersal phenology and dispersal syndromes in a subtropical broad-leaved forest of China. Forest Ecology and Management 258:1147-1152.