Six ecosystem types.
Photos: UPB-Projektgruppe Trier

The investigations are carried out in six ecosystem types.

Ecosystem means a dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit (original text of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 5 June 1992).

  • Agrarian ecosystems cover more than half the surface area of Germany and thus decisively shape the landscape.
  • Ecosystems close to conurbations, or urban-industrial ecosystems, are areas of human activity where natural factors are in part significantly modified or annulled and, especially in built-up areas, only function in very fragmented ways.
  • Almost a third of Germany is covered in forest, most of it under productive forestry management.
  • The structure and function of marine ecosystems are not the only factors to take into consideration when analysing marine organisms. All major changes at sea also induce changes in terrestrial ecosystems. The seas serve to regulate the weather, as a transport network, as a source for numerous food and mineral substances and as the final link in the chain of ecosystem loading.
  • Nearly natural ecosystems are exceptional in that they have preserved their ancient structure and function without significant human manipulation.
  • Riverine ecosystems can be considered as the final link in the functional structure of the terrestrial environment, as they function as a sink and a vehicle for discharges from the mainland, which they pass on to the marine ecosystems.