Environmental change

Lakes and rivers react extremely sensitively to climate change and environmental changes. As such, they act as an early warning system for global ecological change. Our long-term programmes at Lake Stechlin and Lake Müggelsee, as well as on River Spree document the consequences of this change. Data spanning several decades enables us to forecast how freshwaters will develop under certain scenarios. In the LakeLab, our globally unique experimental facility in Lake Stechlin, we simulate the impact that changing environmental conditions (e.g. extreme weather events or the increasing use of artificial lighting) have on lakes and aquatic organisms.

Vice versa, freshwaters also have an impact on climate change. They have the ability to store or release large quantities of greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide. We investigate which conditions influence these processes and what role is played by rivers, lakes and wetlands in the global carbon cycle.

Selected publications

July 2022
Trends in Ecology and Evolution. - 37(2022)3, 197-202

The era of reference genomes in conservation genomics

Giulio Formenti; Kathrin Theissinger; Carlos Fernandes; Iliana Bista; Aureliano Bombarely ... Michael T. Monaghan

The European Reference Genome Atlas (ERGA) is a pan-European scientific response to the current threats to biodiversity that aims to generate reference genomes of eukaryotic species across the tree of life. ERGA reference genomes will include threatened, endemic, and keystone species, as well as pests and species important to agriculture, fisheries, and ecosystem function.

April 2022
Limnology and Oceanography. - 67(2022)S1, S101-S120

Antecedent lake conditions shape resistance and resilience of a shallow lake ecosystem following extreme wind storms

Michael W. Thayne; Benjamin M. Kraemer; Jorrit P. Mesman; Bastiaan W. Ibelings; Rita Adrian

The goal was to develop a systematic, standardized and quantitative methodology for the synthesis of resistance and resilience relative to short-term lake and extreme storm conditions. Resistance and resilience following extreme storms are primarily shaped by antecedent turbidity and thermal conditions. Increased storm intensity and duration diminish resistance and resilience of the lake.


March 2022
Science of the Total Environment. - 814(2022), Art. 151925

Cross-continental importance of CH4 emissions from dry inland-waters

José R. Paranaíba; Ralf Aben; Nathan Barros; Gabrielle Quadra; Annika Linkhorst; André M. Amado; Soren Brothers; Núria Catalán; Jason Condon; Colin M. Finlayson; Hans-Peter Grossart; Julia Howitt; Ernandes S. Oliveira Junior; Philipp S. Keller; Matthias Koschorreck; Alo Laaso; Catherine Leigh; Rafael Marcé; Raquel Mendonça; Claumir C. Muniz; Biel Obrador; Gabriela Onandia; Diego Raymundo; Florian Reverey; Fábio Roland; Eva-Ingrid Rõõmo; Sebastian Sobek; Daniel von Schiller; Haijun Wang; Sarian Kosten

Despite significant progress in quantifying greenhouse gas emissions from dry inland waters, little is known about methane (CH4). The authors determined CH4 emissions from dry sediments across continents and found that the CH4 contribution ranged from 10 to 21% of the equivalent CO2 emissions. Therefore, CH4 emissions from dry inland waters should be considered for the global carbon cycle.

February 2022
Journal of Applied Ecology. - 59(2022)1, 165-175

Warming alters juvenile carp effects on macrophytes resulting in a shift to turbid conditions in freshwater mesocosms

Peiyu Zhang; Huan Zhang; Huan Wang; Sabine Hilt; Chao Li; Chen Yu; Min Zhang; Jun Xu

The authors tested the single and combined effects of warmer water (+4.5°C) and benthivorous juvenile common carp on aquatic macrophytes in 24 mesocosms (2500 L). Our study provides evidence for a regime shift from clear-water conditions dominated by submerged or floating-leaved macrophytes to a turbid state triggered by warming impacts on benthivorous fish rather than on macrophytes.

February 2022
Communications Biology. - 5(2022), Art. 57

Climate-induced forest dieback drives compositional changes in insect communities that are more pronounced for rare species

Lucas Sire; Paul Schmidt Yáñez; Cai Wang; Annie Bézier; Béatrice Courtial; Jérémy Cours; Diego Fontaneto; Laurent Larrieu; Christophe Bouget; Simon Thorn; Jörg Müller; Douglas W. Yu; Michael T. Monaghan; Elisabeth A. Herniou; Carlos Lopez-Vaamonde

Insects declines are now recognised as a consequence of global change. The authors set out to determine the role of drought-induced forest decline in these changes. Using field samples in the Pyrenees and DNA-metabarcoding to determine the species that occur there, they found no loss of species richness in forests experiencing tree loss, but uncovered large differences in the insect communities.

Related Projects

Experts at IGB

Mark Gessner

Head of Department
Research group
Ecosystem Processes

Share page