A Critical Zone Observatory for detecting ecosystem transitions: the constructed catchment Chicken Creek (Germany)

TitleA Critical Zone Observatory for detecting ecosystem transitions: the constructed catchment Chicken Creek (Germany)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsHüttl RF, Gerwin W, Schaaf W, Zaplata MK, Hinz C
JournalProcedia Earth and Planetary Science
Volume10
Start Page46
Keywordsartifical catchment, Critical Zone Observatory, enviromental monitoring
Abstract

The constructed catchment Chicken Creek was established in 2005 as an experimental landscape laboratory for ecosystem research. The 6 ha area with clearly defined horizontal as well as vertical boundary conditions was left for natural primary succession. All Critical Zone elements are represented at this site, which allows the study of most processes occurring at the interface of bio-, pedo-, geo- and hydrosphere. It provides outstanding opportunities for investigating interactions and feedbacks between different co-evolving compartments. The catchment has been extensively instrumented since 2005. Data are recorded with a high spatial and temporal resolution and include hydrological, geomorphological, pedological, limnological as well as biological parameters in order to detect transition states of the ecosystem. In contrast to other Critical Zone Observatories, this site offers the unique situation of an early stage ecosystem with highly dynamic properties. The first years of development were characterized by a fast formation of geomorphological structures due to massive erosion of the initially non-vegetated surface. Hydrological processes led to the establishment of a local groundwater body within 5 years. In the following years the influence of biological structures like vegetation patterns gained increasing importance. Feedbacks between developing vegetation and e.g. hydrological features became more and more apparent. As a result, different phases of ecosystem development have been distinguished.

DOI10.1016/j.proeps.2014.08.009