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Institute for Natural Resource Conservation | Graduate School   

Kiel University

Institute for Ecosystem Research




Research groups/ Projects

Ecosystem Research and Geoarchaeology



Environmental history

Applied Ecology

Polar Ecology







Ecosystem Research and Geoarchaeology

Foto Ranoraraku

Man has been influencing developments of the earth's landscapes for millennia. Land use alters vegetation; cultivation of crops and grazing of animals creates disturbances of soils, sediments and landscape relief. These disturbances seriously affect water balances and matter cycles.

Employing ecosystemic and geoarchaeological methods, we focus on when, where, how and why man has used the landscapes of the earth. We look for reasons for land use consequences as well as effects of ecosystem changes on human cultures.

BildbeschreibungOur research projects are being conducted in middle, south and southeast Europe, in Turkey, in Ethiopia, in East Asia, in Latin America, and on islands of the Pacific Ocean (Easter Island, Robinson Crusoe Island, Galapagos, Palau), Atlantic Ocean (Iceland, Greenland, Falkland Islands, US Virgin Islands) and in the Indian Ocean (Mauritius).


Project themes

Polar Ecology Research Project

    • Ecological consequences of climate change in Siberian shelf seas
      CATS-UniKiel is a work peckage (WP4) ofthe multidisciplinery collaborative reseerch project CATS (The Changing Arctic Transpolar System; grant # 03V01399). Within this averarehing context, WP4 is aiming at assessing ecological impacts of environmental changes (e.g., ocean warming, alteration in water-mass distribution, shifts in seasonal sea-ice dynamics, riverine discharge, and cryo-pelagic-benthic coupling) taking place in Siberian Arctic shelf regions. Projekte

Island Ecosystems Research Projects

    • Easter Island (Rapa Nui, Chile): Changes in Land Use and Culture
      Using geoarchaeological methods, soil and sediment archives of Easter Island are being probed for knowledge concerning ecosystem changes, their causes, and their effects on the societies and culture of the island.
    • Robinson Crusoe Island (Chile): Historical Landscape Developments
      Seven hundred kilometers from the Chilean coast, we are investigating ecosystem changes resulting from the introduction of domestic animals and neophytic plants to Robinson Crusoe Island, as well as consequences of past and present land uses there. Effects on coastal ecosystems by the tsunami of February 27th, 2010 are also being researched.
    • Floreana and San Cristobal Islands, Galapagos, Ecuador: Anthropogenic Landscape Changes
      On two populated islands of the Galapagos archipelago, we are researching the past, present and future effects of land use, including, above all, the opening of island forests resulting from the introduction of domestic animals and garden plants. To that purpose, we are examining as well relations between extreme climatic conditions, such as El Niño, and landscape changes. Projekte

Continental Ecosystems Research Projects

    • Holocene soil deposition and erosion in lake settlement areas
      Comparative studies of soils, colluvia, and lake sediments in lake settlement areas enable conclusions about processes, sequences, factors and intensities of sediment transfer during the Holocene Period.
    • Holocene soil deposition and erosion in the black soil plain of central Germany
      Investigation of sites within the state of Sachsen-Anhalt is enabling detailed reconstruction of Holocene stages of soil development and the processes involved.
    • Environmental changes affecting medieval villages of Brandenburg
    • Geoarchaeological and geomorphological investigations of the Arslantepe tell at Malatya, Turkey
      Goals of this research are the reconstruction of the Holocene soil and environmental developments, and calculations of material and energy balances of the prehistoric tell growth and prehistoric settlement networks.
    • Geoarchaeological and geomorphological investigations at archaeological excavations in Bosnia-Herzegovina
      Goals are the reconstruction of Holocene soil and environmental developments along with tell-associated material and energy balances.
    • Effects of land use in China during the last 5000 yearsProjekte

"Human Development in Landscapes" graduate school projects (selected examples)

    • Adaptation of geomorphometry for research of past and present ecosystems
      The geomorphometry is the quantitative part of geomorphology and based on characteristics of the land surface – “morphometric variables” calculated from digital elevation model. The main goal of our work is the development of methodology for the application of advance theory of geomorphometry for the solution of practical tasks during investigations of spatial organisation and transformation of ecosystems. In the framework of this theme the next research directions are in developing
    • Geomorphological and geoarcheological investigations of a multi-phased settlement mound in Sachsen-Anhalt
      Project goal is the reconstruction of the pre- through post-settlement environmental circumstances, as well as the investigation of the effects of exchanges between the settlement and its surroundings during the nearly 4000 year settlement history. Analysis concentrates on the characteristic settlement layers (xrf, xrd. P, P, phytoliths, charcoal, and molluscs) for the reconstruction of settlement related matter and energy flows.
    • Reconstruction of the Holocene landscape development of Germany's "Mittelgebirge Spessarts" region
      This detailed, interdisciplinary study ties together results from geomorphology, soil science, archaeology and anthracology for a view into the Holocene past of the southern Mittelgebirge Spessarts region, and establishes connections between climate, human activities, vegetation, and surface landforms.
    • Landscape and land use dynamics in southern Ethiopia zum Anfang

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