Landscape Ecohydrology

Research group of Dörthe Tetzlaff
Understanding storage and pathways of water to predict and prevent major flooding. | Photo: Chris Soulsby

Understanding storage and pathways of water to predict and prevent major flooding. | Photo: Chris Soulsby

We aim to understand how catchments function ecohydrologically at different spatio-temporal scales; linking landscapes and riverscapes by understanding the physical processes that generate stream flow, and the way these processes influence the hydrochemistry and ecohydrology of streams. Crucially, one of our main tools is the use of stable isotope tracers as "fingerprints" of waters to quantify internal processes of water storage, transmission and release, and ecohydrological fluxes across spatio-temporal scales. We integrate such data into models to parameterise ecohydrological interactions in a physically-based way to quantitatively assess the effects of vegetation on water usage and the direct effects of climate and landuse change on water flow paths and availability. These models use coupled isotope-hydrology water tracking to simulate stable isotope ratios as well as the age of water, and their transformation from precipitation to stream flow through fluxes vegetation canopies, rooting zones, deeper soils and groundwater aquifers. At present, the group is pursuing a strong focus on investigating of soil-vegetation-atmosphere-water dynamics through tracers and tracer-aided modelling to quantify the heterogeneity in spatio-temporal patterns of "green" (evaporation and transpiration) and "blue" (groundwater recharge and runoff) water fluxes and to identify how plant water use will affect and possibly alter signals of potential climate change.

Our current study area in Germany is within a long-term experimental catchment in the state of Brandenburg, and have soil and vegetation conditions representative of the drought-sensitive parts of northeastern Germany and central Europe. Extensive monitoring of soil-vegetation-stream flow interactions is also conducted in Berlin to understand these processes in urban settings. With the additional use of insights from different geographical environments from international inter-catchment comparisons, we can synthesise a more holistic understanding of hydrological and ecological function.

Our research delivers new scientific understanding for assessing how different land use affects "green" and "blue" water partitioning, providing a crucial basis for evaluating how water storage and flux dynamics can be mediated by land management strategies to build resilience to protect water resources against future climate change.

Within Department 1, Ecohydrology, our Team addressed the 3 departmental core areas of research: Landscape-waterscape interactions, Urban Ecohydrology, and Abiotic - biotic coupling.

Group members

Lukas Kleine

Doctoral Student
Working group
Landscape Ecohydrology

Christine Sturm

Technician/Lab Operator
Working group
Groundwater-Surface Water Interactions
Landscape Ecohydrology

David Dubbert

Technician/Lab Operator
Working group
Landscape Ecohydrology

Grit Siegert

Technician/Lab Operator
Working group
Groundwater-Surface Water Interactions
Landscape Ecohydrology

Hauke Dämpfling

Technician/Lab Operator
Working group
Groundwater-Surface Water Interactions
Landscape Ecohydrology
Light Pollution and Ecophysiology

Anna Wieland

Student Assistant
Working group
Landscape Ecohydrology
Selected publications

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