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Analysing Dynamics of Forest Catchment Output and Novel Climatic Trends indicated by the Ecology of Springs


From 03/2013 to 12/2017

Principal Investigator: Carl Beierkuhnlein
Staff: Andreas Schweiger

AD FONTES: Analysing Dynamics of Forest Catchment Output and Novel Climatic Trends indicated by the Ecology of Springs

This  project  is  co-financed  by  the  European  fond  for  regional  development  of  the  European  Union  and the  Bavarian  State  Ministry  of  the  Environment and Consumer Protection  (TEU01EU-63000).


The major objective of the AD FONTES research project is to establish an ecosystematic tool for predicting climate change effects on regional scale based on helocrenic forest springs.


Climate and land-use change significantly affect fluxes of matter and energy and thus functioning of forest ecosystems. However, up to now the impact of climate change on regional scale processes is hard to assess with the conventional monitoring methods like climate stations. In interflow-fed forest springs groundwater including solutes from the whole catchment seeps out of the ground concentrated to one point. Thus, shifts in the mass balance of the catchments can be easily monitored instantaneous and spatially integrating. Furthermore, springs are characterized by a set of temporal very constant environmental conditions and a variety of species especially adapted to these conditions. Thus, shifts in energy and matter loads affect not only physico-chemical water characteristics but show also visible, direct effects on the spring vegetation. Both facts qualify interflow-fed forest springs as a sensitive monitoring tool for climate and land-use change effects on regional scale.


The AD FONTES research project aims to investigate the potential of forest springs as an integral monitoring tool for climate change effects on regional scale. Started in 1989, water and vegetation characteristics were studied continuously at more than 100 interflow-fed forest springs in the low mountain ranges of north-east Bavaria (Southern Germany). Based on these long-term observations of springs, which can be found in high spatial density in these low mountain ranges dominated by coniferous forest, long-term effects of climate change on forest ecosystems can be thoroughly assessed. To implement an ecosystematic monitoring tool based on interflow-fed forest springs this long-term dataset will now be continued and analyzed in a goal orientated manner. The high spatial density as well as the regular distribution of the interflow-fed springs within the large forested areas allows a more detailed assessment and a more precise prediction of climate change effects on regional scale. The results from this project will assist in terms of forestry and nature conservation management issues to develop strategies for a sustainable use and development of forest ecosystems in the ongoing global climate change.

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