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Department of Biogeography

Prof. Dr. Carl Beierkuhnlein

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Schweiger, A*; ym, C: Springs as source of information for regional scale climate change effects
Talk, 43. Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Ökologie (GfÖ), Potsdam: 2013-09-09 - 2013-09-13

Effects of climate change on fluxes of energy and matter and thus on functioning of forest ecosystems has been studied intensely in local case studies and modelled at continental to global scales. However, processes at regional, landscape and ecosystem scales are hard to assess with conventional monitoring methods such as climate stations. In forest springs, fed by surface near water transport, solutes from the whole catchment are seeping out of the ground punctually. This enables spatial integrating and instantaneous monitoring of forest catchment processes. Furthermore, stenoecious spring vegetation, which is evolutionary adapted to the naturally constant spring habitats, reacts sensitively to various kinds of environmental shifts. Both facts emphasize the potential of helocrenic forest springs to monitor climate change effects in a comprehensive way. The major objective of the AD FONTES research project is to develop a monitoring tool to assess and project climate change impacts on regional scale processes of forest ecosystems by using the ecological response of springs. Helocrenic forest springs are studied in the lower mountain range of north‐eastern Bavaria since 1989. On‐going examinations of physico‐chemical water characteristics and small scale vegetation patterns are used to unravel biotic long‐ and short term response characteristics of these springs and their environmental drivers. As helocrenic springs occur in a high spatial density within the studied forested landscape, regional scale effects of climate change on forest ecosystems can be assessed with a high spatial resolution and transferred to comparable habitats on a much larger spatial scale. The results of this study will assist forestry and nature conservation authorities to develop regional scale management strategies to cope with the effects of ongoing global climate change.
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