The interdisciplinary research aims to study processes and factors controlling the stability of aquatic ecosystems and their function for the matter cycle in the landscape. In this context aquatic boundaries play a key role linking aquatic systems with the terrestrial environment as well as for the regulation of matter fluxes within surface waters. These zones are characterised by steep physical and chemical gradients making them “hot spots” with disproportionately high transformation rates of nutrients and organic matter.
Our research on localisation and quantification of the capacities of aquatic boundaries is essential for (1) the definition of critical loads and thresholds for regime shifts, (2) the prediction of long-term development under changing land use and climate conditions, and (3) the development of sustainable management strategies. The exploration of aquatic boundaries at different scales and their ecological function requires interdisciplinary approaches with various scientific skills jointly provided by the IGB departments. At present, hydrologists, geochemists, lake physicists and biologists are linked within the research focus.
Field and laboratory process studies and modelling aim at deducing general principles and conceptual models independent from spatial scale. Both, interactions between different boundaries and the impact of various factors such as e.g. ground water level and climate on different boundaries are investigated. Aquatic boundaries under investigation are: groundwater/surface water, sediment/water, pelagic redox zones, littoral zones and riparian peatlands (fens).