Reinhard Hüttl, Brandenburg Technical University (Germany)
Ingrid Kögel-Knabner, Technical University (Germany)
Josef Zeyer, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Switzerland)
Thomas Raab, Brandenburg Technical University (Germany)
Since July 2007 the Transregional Collaborative Research Centre (SFB/TRR) 38 funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) aims to study relevant structures and processes of the initial ecosystem development phase and their interactions. The overall hypothesis is: The initial ecosystem development phase forms the later state of ecosystems. For this reason, the collaborative research centre investigates an artificial water catchment starting from point zero of its primary development in combination with experimental verifications of identified processes and structures including their interactions
The objective of the SFB/TRR 38 is to enhance integral models of structure genesis in ecosystems and of process dynamics as well as their interactions during the initial development phase based on a hydrologically clearly definable catchment. Considering especially the carbon and water cycles structural aspects and processes of the initial ecosystem development will be investigated and combined for the analysis of budgets of water and elements on the catchment scale and for implementation into models. The combination of structure and process data will be realized by means of a comprehensive "structure and process model" which will be developed within this collaborative project.
The joint research object of the SFB/TRR 38 is an artificial water catchment which was built in the Lusatian lignite-mining area close to Cottbus, Germany. The catchment has an area of about 6 ha and was left to an undirected succession that allows the integrated analysis of all results on a landscape scale. Further, boundary conditions of this site are clearly defined including well documented inner structures as compared to natural catchments. Additionally to artificial water catchment an experimental site close-by will be used to analyse the functioning of identified structure building processes by means of specific manipulations. For this reason, specific interventions into the natural succession as well as the use of stable isotopes as tracers are planned here. In addition, investigations will be conducted at comparison sites e.g. on inland dunes in Northeastern Germany as well as on a glacier forefield in the Swiss Alps. These additional sites allow to differentiate between site-specific influences and universally valid process and structure patterns of the initial ecosystem development phase that can be applied to similar ecosystems and different site conditions.
Regarding its integral and system oriented approach, the size and the well defined boundary and starting conditions of the central research object, this project is unique with respect to the investigation of the initial ecosystem genesis at a catchment scale. Results are expected to be of great importance for the management of landscapes that have been degraded to an initial state by natural or anthropogenic disturbances.