Department of Lake Research . Photo: André Künzelmann/UFZ

Department of Lake Research


What functions do lakes and reservoirs have in our society and in our natural environment? How can we minimise the effects of anthropogenic stressors on lakes and reservoirs and which management strategies help these ecosystems to be highly resilient? Can we describe the ecosystem dynamics in standing water using mathematical models? Can these models provide predictions of the impacts of global change which will help us to optimise our management strategies? Is it possible to manage a reservoir so that it no longer has an effect on the river system?


Lakes and reservoirs fulfil many functions in the landscape. Their ecological status reflects the status of their drainage basin. The challenge of sustainably developing our lakes and reservoirs therefore lies in the integrated management of the drainage basin and the bodies of water. We work in four groups – Biogeochemistry, Limnophysics and Modelling, Microbiology and Plankton – to quantify, manage and predict the dynamics and matter fluxes in lake ecosystems within the context of landscape and climate.

Our work focusses on reservoirs which are heavily managed due to anthropogenic use. The management of reservoirs is characterised by the conflicts surrounding their use, such as the provision of fresh drinking water or flood protection. Important issues such as the connection between the water volume and the management of the water quality or minimising the ecological effects of the reservoir on downstream rivers remain unresolved.

Our objective is to encourage further establishment of ecological aspects in the management of lakes and reservoirs and to provide those managing them with appropriate tools and problem-solving approaches. A profound understanding of the key components of the ecosystem and their interactions are essential to this endeavour.