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Nadja Neumann

One of the "100 Heads of Science in Berlin 2023"

IGB researcher Christian Wolter honoured by TAGESSPIEGEL for his commitment to the Oder River
Who made the Berlin research region shine this year? The science editorial team of the Tagesspiegel has selected the 100 most important personalities and nominated IGB researcher Christian Wolter for his great commitment to the Oder River.

Three times a year, Christian Wolter is on the Oder River with the IGB research vessel, here in November 2022. | Photo: Lena Giovanazzi

Christian Wolter cares about the River Oder, all the more so since up to 1,000 tonnes of fish died in the river in July and August 2022. For more than 20 years, his team has been sailing along the river three times a year with the research vessel in several daily stages and casting the nets for research purposes. In this way, he has been able to precisely document the development of fish stocks over the years, down to individual species, and record the extent of the man-made environmental catastrophe. He communicates his findings in interviews and lectures and uses scientifically sound arguments to campaign for better protection of the river ecosystem and against the expansion planned by the German and Polish sides as a waterway. We asked Christian Wolter what motivates him.

Mr Wolter, why is the Oder your research river?

As a large river, the Oder is fundamentally exciting with its dynamics and processes. In addition, it is unobstructed over long stretches all the way to the sea – and thus free-flowing, at least as far as migration obstacles for fish are concerned. This makes it the last major German river in which it is still possible to study the development of fish stocks as a function of various environmental factors.

What has particularly concerned, delighted or disturbed you about the Oder this year?

Of course, I was concerned to understand the extent of the disaster and to find out how the fish fared. It was good to see, that the catastrophe has not recurred despite unlimited salt discharge, and that many young fish are swimming in the Oder this year due to good spawning and breeding conditions. I am also pleased that public interest in the well-being of the Oder continues unabated. I am disturbed by the ignorance with which we treat our rivers despite the catastrophe, such as the continuation of the expansion plans and the lacking or very inconsistent fight against the causes. So I will continue to advocate for an improvement of the Oder's status with my research.

Comment by Christian Wolter on the Oder disaster >

All IGB news on the River Oder >

Article in the TAGESSPIEGEL (in German, paywall) >

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Martin Pusch
Christian Wolter
Sonja Jähnig
Thomas Mehner
(Dept. 1) Ecohydrology and Biogeochemistry
(Dept. 2) Community and Ecosystem Ecology
(Dept. 3) Plankton and Microbial Ecology
(Dept. 4) Fish Biology, Fisheries and Aquaculture
(Dept. 5) Evolutionary and Integrative Ecology
Research group(s)

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