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Department of Biogeography

Prof. Dr. Carl Beierkuhnlein

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Schweiger, A*; ym, C: Monitoring of helocrenic forest springs as a solution to the riddle of regional-scale climate change effects
Poster, IBS Early Career Conference 2014, Canberra: 2014-01-07 - 2014-01-10

Recent models about climate change impact on biodiversity and, thus, ecosystem functioning are based on knowledge about species response to environmental changes. This knowledge mainly derives from local-scale and short-run experimental studies. Based on a long-term (24 years) and regional-scale monitoring of helocrenic forest springs, which occur in a high spatial density in the lower mountain range of north-eastern Bavaria, we are able to assess and predict climate change effects on regional-scale ecosystem processes. Solutes from the whole spring catchment, which seep out of the ground punctually at the spring sites and are affected by long- but also short-term shifts in environmental settings were already shown to affect spring vegetation, which is evolutionary adapted to the naturally constant spring habitats. Furthermore, different degree of compositional vegetation turnover as a response to the climatic extreme summer drought 2003 could be shown for the surveyed springs in recent analyses. Both facts emphasize the potential of helocrenic forest springs to monitor climate change effects on regional-scale ecosystem processes in a comprehensive way. Information about spring water and vegetation response to short-term climatic events like extreme drought or precipitation as well as long-term climatic shifts like increasing average temperature will be used in our research project to understand system resilience and resistance of forest springs. The understanding about the drivers of compositional vegetation turnover in helocrenic springs will be used subsequently to model future effects of climate change on forest ecosystems. The results from this study will primarily 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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