Institute of Geography and Geoecology (IFGG)
Portrait Leimer

Dr. Sophia Leimer

  • Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)
    Institut für Geographie und Geoökologie
    Reinhard-Baumeister-Platz 1
    76131 Karlsruhe

Sophia Leimer

Soil, ecohydrology, biodiversity, nutrient cycles, and modeling.


  • Environmental change effects on water and element fluxes
  • Hierarchical Bayesian modeling
  • Hydrological modeling
  • Time series analysis


Since 2014 Postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Geography and Geoecology, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
2013-2014 Postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Geography, University of Bern
2010-2013 PhD student at the Institute of Geography, University of Bern. Title of the dissertation: „Plant diversity effects on water fluxes and N leaching in soil of an experimental grassland: An analysis using a Bayesian modeling approach“
2003-2010 Magister in Geography, Math, and Computer Science at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. Title of the Magister thesis: „Modellierung des Wasserhaushalts eines kleinen weinbaudominierten Einzugsgebiets im Oberen Mittelrheintal (Gailsbach)“

Projects: | |


Contributions in peer-reviewed journals
2020Lama, S., Velescu, A., Leimer, S., Weigelt, A., Chen, H., Eisenhauer, N., Scheu, S., Oelmann, Y., Wilcke, W. (2020): Plant diversity influenced gross nitrogen mineralization, microbial ammonium consumption and gross inorganic N immobilization in a grassland experiment. Oecologia 193, pp. 731–748. Unter den Bedingungen von Open Access verfügbar 10.1007/s00442-020-04717-6

2019Bandowe, B. A. M., Leimer, S., Meusel, H., Velescu, A., Dassen, S., Eisenhauer, N., Hoffmann, T., Oelmann, Y., Wilcke, W. (2019): Plant diversity enhances the natural attenuation of polycyclic aromatic compounds (PAHs and oxygenated PAHs) in grassland soils. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 129, pp. 60–70. 10.1016/j.soilbio.2018.10.017

Bandowe, B. A. M., Nkansah, M. A., Leimer, S., Fischer, D., Lammel, G., Han, Y. M. (2019): Chemical (C, N, S, black carbon, soot and char) and stable carbon isotope composition of street dusts from a major West African metropolis: Implications for source apportionment and exposure. Science of the Total Environment 655, pp. 1468–1478. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.11.089

Fischer, C., Leimer, S., Roscher, C., Ravenek, J., de Kroon, H., Kreutziger, Y., Baade, J., Beßler, H., Eisenhauer, N., Weigelt, A., Mommer, L., Lange, M., Gleixner, G., Wilcke, W., Schröder, B., Hildebrandt, A. (2019): Plant species richness and functional groups have different effects on soil water content in a decade‐long grassland experiment. Journal of Ecology 107, pp. 127–141. 10.1111/1365-2745.13046

Wilcke, W., Velescu, A., Leimer, S., Bigalke, M., Boy, J., Valarezo, C. (2019): Temporal trends of phosphorus cycling in a tropical montane forest in Ecuador during 14 years. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences 124, pp. 1329–1386. 10.1029/2018JG004942

2018Leimer, S., Bischoff, S., Boch, S., Busch, V., Escher, P., Fischer, M., Hänsel, F., Hölzel, N., Kerber, K., Klaus, V. H., Kleinebecker, T., Michalzik, B., Nauss, T., Schäfer, D., Schöning, I., Schwarz, M. T., Siemens, J., Thieme, L., Wöllauer, S., Wilcke, W. (2018): Does plant diversity affect the water balance of established grassland systems? Ecohydrology 11, e1945. 10.1002/eco.1945

2017Weisser, W. W., Roscher, C., Meyer, S. T., Ebeling, A., Luo, G., Allan, E., Beßler, H., Barnard, R. L., Buchmann, N., Buscot, F., Engels, C., Fischer, C., Fischer, M., Gessler, A., Gleixner, G., Halle, S., Hildebrandt, A., Hillebrand, H., de Kroon, H., Lange, M., Leimer, S., Le roux, X., Milcu, A., Mommer, L., Niklaus, P. A., Oelmann, Y., Proulx, R., Roy, J., Scherber, C., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Scheu, S., Tscharntke, T., Wachendorf, M., Wagg, C., Weigelt, A., Wilcke, W., Wirth, C., Schulze, E., Schmid, B., Eisenhauer, N. (2017): Biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning in a 15-year grassland experiment: Patterns, mechanisms, and open questions. Basic and Applied Ecology 23, pp. 1–73. Unter den Bedingungen von Open Access verfügbar 10.1016/j.baae.2017.06.002

Wilcke, W., Velescu, A., Leimer, S., Bigalke, M., Boy, J., Valarezo, C. (2017): Biological vs. geochemical control and environmental change drivers of the base metal budgets of a tropical montane forest in Ecuador during 15 years. Biogeochemistry 136, pp. 167–189. 10.1007/s10533-017-0386-x

2016Leimer, S., Oelmann, Y., Eisenhauer, N., Milcu, A., Roscher, C., Scheu, S., Weigelt, A., Wirth, C., Wilcke, W. (2016): Mechanisms behind plant diversity effects on inorganic and organic N leaching from temperate grassland. Biogeochemistry 131, pp. 339–353. 10.1007/s10533-016-0283-8

Meyer, S. T., Ebeling, A., Eisenhauer, N., Hertzog, L., Hillebrand, H., Milcu, A., Pompe, S., Abbas, M., Beßler, H., Buchmann, N., De Luca, E., Engels, C., Fischer, M., Gleixner, G., Hudewenz, A., Klein, A., de Kroon, H., Leimer, S., Loranger, H., Mommer, L., Oelmann, Y., Ravenek, J., Roscher, C., Rottstock, T., Scherber, C., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Scheu, S., Schmid, B., Schulze, E., Staudler, A., Strecker, T., Temperton, V., Tscharntke, T., Vogel, A., Voigt, W., Weigelt, A., Wilcke, W., Weisser, W. W. (2016): Biodiversity effects strengthen over time as ecosystem functioning declines at low and increases at high biodiversity. Ecosphere 7, e01619. Unter den Bedingungen von Open Access verfügbar 10.1002/ecs2.1619

2015Leimer, S., Oelmann, Y., Wirth, C., Wilcke, W. (2015): Time matters for plant diversity effects on nitrate leaching from temperate grassland. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 211, pp. 155–163. 10.1016/j.agee.2015.06.002

Wright, A. J., Ebeling, A., de Kron, H., Roscher, C., Weigelt, A., Buchmann, N., Buchmann, T., Fischer, C., Hacker, N., Hildebrandt, A., Leimer, S., Mommer, L., Oelmann, Y., Scheu, S., Steinauer, K., Strecker, T., Weisser, W. W., Wilcke, W., Eisenhauer, N. (2015): Flooding disturbances increase resource availability and productivity but reduce stability in diverse plant communities. Nature Communications 6, pp. 6092. 10.1038/ncomms7092

2014Leimer, S., Kreutziger, Y., Rosenkranz, S., Beßler, H., Engels, C., Hildebrandt, A., Oelmann, Y., Weisser, W. W., Wirth, C., Wilcke, W. (2014): Plant diversity effects on the water balance of an experimental grassland. Ecohydrology 7(5), pp. 1378–1391. 10.1002/eco.1464

Leimer, S., Wirth, C., Oelmann, Y., Wilcke, W. (2014): Biodiversity effects on nitrate concentrations in soil solution: a Bayesian model. Biogeochemistry 118(1-3), pp. 141–157. 10.1007/s10533-013-9913-6

2013Wilcke, W., Leimer, S., Peters, T., Emck, P., Rollenbeck, R., Trachte, K., Valarezo, C., Bendix, J. (2013): The nitrogen cycle of tropical montane forest in Ecuador turns inorganic under environmental change. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 27(4), pp. 1194–1204. 10.1002/2012gb004471

2011Leimer, S., Pohlert, T., Pfahl, S., Wilcke, W. (2011): Towards a new generation of high-resolution meteorological input data for small-scale hydrologic modeling. Journal of Hydrology 402(3-4), pp. 317–332. 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2011.03.026

Contributions in journals and series (not peer-reviewed)
2019van der Plas, F., Schröder-Georgi, T., Weigelt, A., Barry, K. E., Meyer, S. T., Alzate, A., Barnard, R. L., Buchmann, N., de Kroon, H., Ebeling, A., Eisenhauer, N., Engels, C., Fischer, M., Gleixner, G., Hildebrandt, A., Koller-France, E., Leimer, S., Milcu, A., Mommer, L., Niklaus, P. A., Oelmann, Y., Roscher, C., Scherber, C., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Scheu, S., Schmid, B., Schulze, E., Temperton, V., Tscharntke, T., Voigt, W., Weisser, W. W., Wilcke, W., Wirth, C. (2019): Plant traits are poor predictors of long-term ecosystem functioning. bioRxiv. 10.1101/859314

2015Leimer, S., Escher, P., Wilcke, W. (2015): Biodiversitätsverlust mindert Ökosystemleistungen. Forum Geoökologie 26(2), pp. 19–24.

Book chapters
2020Wilcke, W., Velescu, A., Leimer, S., Valarezo, C. (2020): Water and Nutrient Budgets of Organic Layers and Mineral Topsoils Under Tropical Montane Forest in Ecuador in Response to 15 Years of Environmental Change. pp. 565–586. In: Levia, D. F., Carlyle-Moses, D. E., Iida, S., Michalzik, B., Nanko, K., Tischer, A. (ed.): Forest-Water Interactions. Ecological Studies 240, Springer, Cham. 10.1007/978-3-030-26086-6_23

2018Leimer, S. (2018): Model-assisted study of plant diversity effects on nitrate leaching from grassland (Chapter I/67). pp. 348–352. In: Sychev, V. G., Mueller, L. (ed.): Novel methods and results of landscape research in Europe, Central Asia and Siberia. 10.25680/7314.2018.17.76.067

Invited talks

Leimer, S.: Ökosysteme im globalen Wandel: Überlebenswichtige Fragen als interdisziplinäre Herausforderung. KIT Abitag - Berufsbilder von Naturwissenschaftlerinnen, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT), 27.01.2016.

Leimer, S.: Response of water and N fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems to climate change and biodiversity loss. Department Hydrosystemmodellierung, Helmholtz Zentrum für Umweltforschung - UFZ, Leipzig, 02.12.2015.

Leimer, S.: Element fluxes in a tropical mountain forest under environmental change. Geologische Fachgespräche, Institut für Angewandte Geowissenschaften, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT), 05.11.2015.

Leimer, S.: Response of water and nitrate fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems to climate change and biodiversity loss. Geo-Ökologisches Kolloquium, Institut für Ökologie, Technische Universität Berlin, 30.06.2015.

Conference contributions (selection)

Leimer, S., Escher, P., Oelmann, Y., Wilcke, W.: Biodiversität senkt Nitratauswaschung aus dem Boden in das Grundwasser (Oral presentation). Meeting of the German Association for Hydrogeology (FH-DGGV), 13.-17. April, 2016. Karlsruhe, Germany.

Bandowe, B.A.M., Meusel, H., Leimer, S., Velescu, A., Strecker, T., Oelmann, Y., Eisenhauer, N., Scheu, S., Hoffmann, T., Wilcke, W.: The effect of plant diversity on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and their derivatives in soils: Results from the Jena Experiment (Oral presentation). German Soil Science Society (DBG) meeting, 05.-10. September, 2015. München, Germany.

Leimer, S., Velescu, A., Peña Herrera, J. M., Emck, P., Peters, T., Rollenbeck, R., Trachte, K., Bendix, J., Wilcke, W.: Biogeochemical and biological responses of a tropical montane ecosystem in Ecuador to environmental change (Oral presentation). German Soil Science Society (DBG) meeting, 05.-10. September, 2015. München, Germany.

Fischer, C., Hohenbrink, T., Leimer, S., Roscher, C., Ravenek, J., de Kroon, H., Kreutziger, Y., Wirth, C., Eisenhauer, N., Gleixner, G., Weigelt, A., Mommer, L., Beßler, H., Schröder, B., Hildebrandt, A.: Effects of biotic and abiotic indices on long-term soil moisture data in a grassland biodiversity experiment (Oral presentation). European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly, 12. - 17. April, 2015. Wien, Austria.

Leimer, S., Oelmann, Y., Wirth, C., Wilcke, W.: Plant diversity effects on nitrate leaching from an experimental grassland (Oral presentation). German Soil Science Society (DBG) meeting, 07.-12. September, 2013. Rostock, Germany.

Leimer, S., Kreutziger, Y., Rosenkranz, S., Beßler, H., Engels, C., Hildebrandt, A., Oelmann, Y., Weisser, W.W., Wirth, C., Wilcke, W.: Biodiversity effects on the water balance of an experimental grassland (Oral presentation). European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly 2013, 07.-12. April, 2013. Wien, Austria.