Biologie and Geography

The focus in Water and Environmental Research is on water and water body quality as an essential part of the natural ecosystem and its significance for sustainable use by man.
The Applied Zoology/Hydrobiology research group, headed by Professors Bernd Sures and Daniel Hering, is working on water quality assessment and water protection strategies. The research focus here lies on the analysis of different organisms and communities and their value as indicators of the ecological quality of water bodies and possible ways of improving them.
Another main topic of research concerns the enrichment of metals in free-living animals and in endoparasites of vertebrates. In addition to work on ultratrace analysis of these metals, the researchers joined colleagues from Tübingen and Grenoble in a new publication to show that the body shape of snails is altered if the embryo is exposed to high concentrations of platinum. In 2010, the 12th Edelmetallforum (Noble Metal Forum) was held in Essen, the European Capital of Culture, from 15 to 16 June.
Dr. Ana Perez Del Olmo is receiving support from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for her work investigating the effect of global change on host parasite communities. In 2009, the WISER (Water bodies in Europe) project was launched. The Department of Applied Zoology/Hydrobiology is responsible for coordinating this research project of 25 European research partners. The project is receiving 7 million euros in funding from the 
EU and develops assessment systems for lakes and coastal waters throughout Europe. Other areas of interest include predicting the success of measures to restore rivers, lakes and coastal waters, and quantifying uncertainty in the assessment of water bodies. By the halfway mark, the project had already produced 25 publications. The findings of WISER are implemented directly in water management, particularly within management plans for river catchments and intercalibration of assessment procedures. (
The General Botany research group is now headed by Professor Jens Boenigk, whose appointment contributes to the ongoing development 
of the main Water and Environmental Research focus and adds a molecular aspect to Biodiversity research.
One of the highlights in the research of the General Zoology group of Professor Hynek Burda was its recent discovery of the magnetic field receptors in domestic cattle and deer, whose behaviour is clearly affected by magnetic field disturbance under high-voltage power lines. The publication of the group’s findings in the internationally 
acclaimed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA, attracted a great deal of attention in the scientific community, the media and among the general public worldwide.
In Applied Botany (Professor Hardy Pfanz), 
work focused on ecophysiological and plant sociological investigations of the effects of extreme 
vulcanic CO2 exhalation (mofettes) on plants (carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide), the quantification and modelling of photosynthetic carbon 
gain through stem photo-synthesis (corticular CO2 refixation) in woody plants and how they are 
affected by changing abiotic environmental 
factors during climate change, and in particular on the move and reorganisation of the Botanical Garden.
Professor Ulrich Schreiber’s Geology group continued its interdisciplinary geo-ecology and tectonics research with the subject of why hill-building forest ants are found on active rupture zones of the earth’s crust. The work relates to the increased occurrence of hill-building forest ants on tectonic faults, which has been proven in extensive studies throughout Central Europe.
The General Climatology and Landscape Ecology group under Prof. Wilhelm Kuttler is currently taking part in the BMBF’s dynaklim project (Dynamic Adaptation of Regional Planning and Development Processes to the Effects of Climate Change in the Emscher-Lippe region/ The focus here is on investigating evaporation in urban areas supplied with water.