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Long Term Ecological Research at AWI (LTER)

Rationale


“The future has already arrived; it just isn't evenly distributed” (W. Gibson)

This is exactly our problem with the response of ecosystems to long-term trends in climate and environment. Owing to ecosystem complexity and variability in space and time, the phenomena we deal with are either long term in their dynamics, or episodic, rare, complex or subtle in their occurrence and/or manifestation.
Only long-term studies, combined with experimental approaches, can reveal ecosystem dynamics, patterns and control processes. Hence, long-term research is essential to make and justify management and policy decisions regarding the protection of ecosystems and the maintenance of ecosystem services, particularly in times of potentially rapid climate change.

 


 

Objectives

• To continue/establish time series of relevant and representative ecological parameters at different levels of ecosystem organisation.

• To create well documented databases and archives of samples and specimens that are accessible to the scientific community.

• To analyze these time series for trends and cycles by means of modern analytical  and modelling approaches.

• To relate the observed patterns to external forcing factors on regional and global scales by means of empirical and mechanistic models.

• To establish a cause-and-effect understanding of these relationships by analytical and experimental approaches.

• To model future ecological developments based on the observed relationships between forcing factors and ecological parameters.

• To provide knowledge to the broader scientific community, general public, resource managers, and policy makers to address complex environmental challenges.

 

AWI LTER Activities

Two ecological research series maintained by AWI go back to the 1960s, the
• Helgoland Roads plankton time series (one station, daily since 1962),
• German Bight soft bottom zoobenthos time series (two stations, bi-annual, since 1969)

Further long-term research series on plankton, soft & hard bottom fauna and flora and fish have been established since the 1990s (see table).


 

Helgoland Roads Time Series

Parameters: Water physics & chemistry, phyto- & zooplankton
Scale: 1 Station (Helgoland Roads)
Start: 1962
Frequency: daily
Data/Metadata: PANGAEA
Responsible: Karen Wiltshire

 

German Bight soft bottom zoobenthos time series

Parameters: Macrozoobenthos
Scale: 4 Stations (German Bight)
Start: 1969
Frequency: Bi-annual
Data/Metadata: PANGAEA*
Responsible: Alexander Schroeder
  Eike Rachor
* and further PANGAEA files  

 

During the 1980s/90s further long-term research series on plankton, bottom fauna and flora and fish have been established that focus on the German Bight and the North Frisian Wadden Sea:


 

North Sea Time Series

Area Period Parameters Data/Metadata Responsible
Helgoland 1961 - ongoing Bacterioplankton G. Gerdts G. Gerdts
Helgoland 1974 - ongoing Zooplankton M. Graeve M. Graeve
Wadden Sea 1992 Fish, Bycatch R. Knust R. Knust
German Bight 1984 - ongoing Liverpathology in Fish A. Köhler A. Köhler
G. Bight off Sylt 1992 - ongoing Macrozoobenthos W. Armonies W. Armonies

 

North Frisian Wadden Sea Series

Area Period Parameters Data/Metadata Responsible
Sylt-Rømø-Bight 1984* - ongoing Hydrography, Nutrients, Chlorophyll J. van Beusekom J. van Beusekom
Sylt-Rømø-Bight 1987* - ongoing Phytoplankton (Taxonomy) J. van Beusekom J. van Beusekom
Sylt-Rømø-Bight 1994* - ongoing Phytoplankton (Production) R. Asmus R. Asmus
Sylt-Rømø-Bight 1984* - ongoing Zooplankton PANGAEA P. Martens
Königshafen, Sylt 1992* - ongoing Macrozoobenthos K. Reise K. Reise
Northfrisian Wadden Sea 1991* - ongoing Macrophytes K. Reise K. Reise
         
* older data available        

 
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