For more than 25 years, the Department of Biogeography at the University of Bayreuth has been studying the water of spring areas in Upper Franconian forests as well as the characteristic plant communities growing around these swamp springs. The water chemistry of spring water - as well as certain "indicator" plant species - can be used to deduce ecological processes in the catchment area.
The aim of the subproject is to determine if and how the temperature of the springs and the indicator species growing there are related, and how the amount of rain and spring water affects the water temperature. Further spring locations in Steinwald, Oberpfälzer Wald and Bavarian Forest are included to characterize the climatic conditions of Bavarian forest landscapes.
Springs are the interface between groundwater and surface water. Particularly in the siliceous mountain ranges, which mainly have shallow aquifers in the Pleistocene solifluction covers, there is a close connection between the ecological processes in the often very small catchment areas of springs and the properties of the spring waters. The residence times of the waters in the catchment area are relatively short, however the number of spring outlets is large. Especially in forests, spring discharges are hardly subject to anthropogenic disturbances.
As early as 1989, 100 forest springs were established in the Fichtelgebirge and Frankenwald for the indication of element discharge and climatic characteristics of catchment areas. Forest springs represent excellent climate indication systems. In locations far away from settlements there is a lack of weather stations. In the present project, these forest springs are being monitored further, the relationship between temperatures and indicator species is being determined, and the effects of precipitation and bulk fluctuations on their temperature behavior are being investigated. In addition to the established long-term monitoring sites, additional samples from catchments in neighboring landscapes (Steinwald, Oberpfälzer Wald, Bavarian Forest) are examined to characterize the state and change of climatic conditions along the eastern Bavarian mountain ranges.
In addition, we detect the hydrochemical properties of the springs and associate these with subcritical acid depositions as well as with the current nitrogen depositions. Our goal is to use siliceous forest springs to establish a comprehensive and cost-effective tool for assessing landscape pressures, and to identify interactions with climate change.