Ecosystems suffer from climate change

Study: effects in Germany are no longer to be overlooked

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Climate change in Germany is leading to ever clearer consequences for land use. For example, yields on many crops are on the decline. Forest margins and coniferous forests are also particularly vulnerable to an increase in storms. This emerges from current research results presented by the German Network for Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER-D) at its annual meeting in the Bavarian town of Sankt Oswald.

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Thereafter, the survival of many bogs and small bodies of water is threatened by the decreasing rainfall in northeastern Germany. Significant changes are also to be expected in the German flora, whereby immigrants from warmer regions are already to be found today.

These include both deciduous woody plants such as the deity tree originating from China as well as evergreen shrubs such as the laurel cherry, according to the scientists of the network. The experts therefore demanded, among other things, a quick adaptation of forestry to the changed conditions.

Investigate ecosystems better

With the changed climatic conditions, the growing season is prolonged. Many species bloom earlier or stay green longer in the fall. However, according to the ecologists, the impact on processes in the ecosystems has so far been unsatisfactory. For example, how will the productivity of ecosystems change? What impact will growing populations of pests, such as the bark beetle, have on our forests? What about the water holding capacity of the vegetation? display

In order to better understand the problems and develop countermeasures, monitoring work needs to be stepped up and the cycles of ecosystems more intensively studied, the researchers say.

Network LTER-D

The LTER-D network was founded in 2005 and is currently working in twelve examination rooms in Germany. Its members are universities, national parks and biosphere reserves as well as non-university research centers, such as the Helmholtz and Leibniz Associations.

The network's objective is to explore complex long-term ecological processes under conditions of global change and to develop early-warning systems and management strategies for the sustainable use of ecosystems. LTER-D is a member of the international network ILTER and of the European network LTER Europe.

(idw - Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research - UFZ, 02.04.2007 - DLO)