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Biomonitoring of Forest Springs in 'Frankenwald' and 'Fichtelgebirge'


From 02/2003 to 01/2006

Principal Investigator: Carl Beierkuhnlein
Staff: Volker Audorff, Carl Beierkuhnlein

Forest springs in north-eastern Bavaria

This project is funded for a 3-year period by the Bavarian State Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (board of trustees of the Bavarian State Institute of Forestry).


Vegetation of forest spring habitats is strongly influenced by hydrochemical conditions. Former investigations found springs to be a good indicator system to characterize forest ecosystems and their atmospheric deposition loads. In the current project we will use this knowledge of biomonitoring and bioindication in forested catchments to analyze temporal dynamics of water chemistry and associated vegetation.

In addition will study spatial patterns of changing stress situations. Species will be tested to identify indicator species, which react sensible to changes in water chemistry.

The experimental setup includes aspects of vegetation, soil and ground water as well as processes in forested catchments in a holistic ecosystem approach. Springs represent an integrating signal of the state of forest ecosystems.

The first sampling period of our long-term investigation was in 1989/1990, at the time of the German reunion. This is an important feature of our project, because in the following years the deposition of acidifying pollutants (especially sulfate) in the north-eastern Bavarian mountain ranges decreased significantly.


Our objectives are:

  1. Monitoring and analysis of temporal dynamics of springwater acidification.
  2. Spatial analysis on different scales (identification of polluted areas).
  3. Bioindication of the hydrochemical status by means of vegetation data.
  4. Testing of single species’ reactions (quality and speed) on temporal variability of environmental factors (synchronisation).
  5. Development of an indication system to check the pollution stress of catchments (applicable in forestry).

all these goals are closely related to each other.


  • Observed trends of acidification (from 1989/1990 to 1996/1997) will continue.
  • Changing climate conditions modify the seasonal variability of springwater ecosystems.
  • Patterns of spatial variability on landscape level are of higher importance than the variability within a single catchment.
  • Species composition of forest spring plant communities is modified by hydrochemical changes.
  • Species characterized as bound to specific hydrochemical conditions in former investigations will react to changes in water chemistry.
  • Catchments with differing forest management show different dynamics of their environmental chemistry.


In two forested mountain ranges in north-east Bavaria (‘Frankenwald’ and ‘Fichtelgebirge’) we investigate vegetation and hydrochemistry of forest spring habitats. The current project continues a monitoring program of forested catchments, which was initiated in the years 1989/1990 and carried on in 1996/1997. Including the field campaign in 2003/2004 we follow a regular rhythm in our experimental design.


List of publications of this Project

Kapfer, J; Audorff, V; Beierkuhnlein, C; Hertel, E: Do bryophytes show a stronger response than vascular plants to interannual changes in spring water quality?, Freshwater Science, 31(2), 625-635 (2012), doi:10.1899/11-037.1 [Link] -- Details
Audorff, V; Kapfer, J; Beierkuhnlein, C: The role of hydrological and spatial factors for the vegetation of Central European springs, Journal of Limnology, 70(Suppl. 1), 9-22 (2011), doi:10.4081/jlimnol.2011.s1.9 [Link] -- Details
Audorff, V: Vegetation ecology of springs: ecological, spatial and temporal patterns, BayCEER-online, 5, 1-131 (2009) [Link] -- Details
Strohbach, M; Audorff, V; Beierkuhnlein, C: Drivers of plant species composition in siliceous spring ecosystems: groundwater chemistry, catchment traits or spatial factors?, Journal of Limnology, 68(2), 375-384 (2009), doi:10.4081/jlimnol.2009.375 [Link] -- Details
Audorff, V: Ökologische, räumliche und zeitliche Muster der Vegetation von Waldquellen in Landesbund für Vogelschutz in Bayern e.V.: LIFE-Natur-Projekt Kalktuffquellen in der Frankenalb, 26-27 (2007)
Audorff, V; Beierkuhnlein, C; Heller, K; Kleber, A: Einzugsgebiete als landschaftsökologische Instrumente - der Frankenwald als Modellregion, Bayreuther Geographische Arbeiten, 28, 180-197 (2007)
Beierkuhnlein, C; Hotzy, R: Naturschutzfachliche Bewertung von Waldquellen, Bayreuther Forum Ökologie, 71, 247-256 (1999)
Beierkuhnlein, C; Gollan, T: Ökologie silikatischer Waldquellen in Mitteleuropa in Bayreuther Institut für Terrestrische Ökosystemforschung (BITÖK): Bayreuther Forum Ökologie, Selbstverlag, 71, 1-256 (1999) -- Details
Beierkuhnlein, C; Gräsle, W: Struktur und saisonale Entwicklung von Waldquellfluren, Bayreuther Forum Ökologie, 71, 227-245 (1999) -- Details
Beierkuhnlein, C; Kleber, A: Zur Morphogenese flächiger Quellfluren, Bayreuther Forum Ökologie, 71, 27-34 (1999) -- Details
Beierkuhnlein, C; Riedel, R; Audorff, V: Vergleich der wasserchemischen Eigenschaften von Waldquellen der silikatischen Mittelgebirge, Bayreuther Forum Ökologie, 71, 87-101 (1999) -- Details
Beierkuhnlein, C; Schmidt, J: Vegetation der Waldquellfluren im Thüringer Schiefergebirge, Bayreuther Forum Ökologie, 71, 173-183 (1999) -- Details
Audorff, V; Beierkuhnlein, C: Akkumulative Indikation von Stoffausträgen mit Hilfe von Quellmoosen, Bayreuther Forum Ökologie, 71, 119-142 (1999) -- Details
Audorff, V; Beierkuhnlein, C: Versauerung und Stoffausträge aus Quelleinzugsgebieten, Bayreuther Forum Ökologie, 71, 103-117 (1999) -- Details
Audorff, V; Durka, W; Beierkuhnlein, C: Vegetation der Waldquellfluren im Fichtelgebirge, Bayreuther Forum Ökologie, 71, 197-207 (1999) -- Details
Gräsle, W; Beierkuhnlein, C: Temperaturen und Strahlungshaushalt an Waldquellen, Bayreuther Forum Ökologie, 71, 77-85 (1999) -- Details
Peintinger, P; Beierkuhnlein, C: Vegetation der Waldquellfluren im Thüringer Wald, Bayreuther Forum Ökologie, 71, 185-196 (1999) -- Details
Riedel, R; Beierkuhnlein, C: Vegetation der Waldquellfluren im Erzgebirge, Bayreuther Forum Ökologie, 71, 209-225 (1999) -- Details
Beierkuhnlein, C: Quellflurgesellschaften an helokrenen Waldquellen der silikatischen Mittelgebirge, Bayreuther Forum Ökologie, 71, 143-153 (1999) -- Details
Beierkuhnlein, C: Vegetation der Waldquellfluren im Frankenwald, Bayreuther Forum Ökologie, 71, 155-172 (1999) -- Details
Beierkuhnlein, C; Gollan, T: Forschung zu Quellökosystemen an der Universität Bayreuth - eine Einführung, Bayreuther Forum Ökologie, 71, 1-8 (1999) -- Details
Beierkuhnlein, C; Gräsle, W: The influence of light regime and water chemistry on the structure of forest spring vegetation in Botosaneanu, L: Crenobiology, Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, 9-22 (1998) -- Details
Beierkuhnlein, C: Biomonitoring mit Quellen der silikatischen Mittelgebirge, Crunoecia, 5, 141-151 (1996) -- Details
Beierkuhnlein, C: Auswirkungen saurer Quellwässer auf die Artenzusammensetzung von Waldquellen, Informationsberichte des Bayerischen Landesamtes für Wasserwirtschaft , 3, 175-182 (1995) -- Details
Schmidt, J; Beierkuhnlein, C: Zur Vegetation der Waldquellen des Hohen Thüringischen Schiefergebirges, Crunoecia, 4, 21-43 (1995)
Beierkuhnlein, C: Florenveränderungen durch Immissionseinflüsse - Pflanzengeographische Analyse der Vegetation von Waldquellen, Artenschutzreport, 5, 34-43 (1995) -- Details
Beierkuhnlein, C: Waldquellfluren im Frankenwald - Untersuchungen zur reaktiven Bioindikation, Bayreuther Forum Ökologie, 10, 1-250 (1994) -- Details
Beierkuhnlein, C: Waldquellfluren - ein Beitrag zum Monitoring von Umweltbelastungen im Frankenwald in Barsch, D; Karrasch, H: Geographie und Umwelt, 214-219 (1993)
Beierkuhnlein, C; Gräsle, W: Zum Temperaturverhalten von Waldquellen des Frankenwaldes (Nordost-Bayern), Crunoecia, 2, 5-14 (1993)
Beierkuhnlein, C; Durka, W: Beurteilung von Stoffausträgen immissionsbelasteter Waldökosysteme Nordostbayerns durch Quellwasseranalysen, Forstwissenschaftliches Centralblatt, 112, 225-239 (1993) -- Details
Beierkuhnlein, C: Räumliche Analyse der Stoffausträge aus Waldgebieten durch Untersuchung von Waldquellfluren, Die Erde, 122, 291-315 (1991) -- Details

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