Writing thesis in the Working group Floodplain ecology
Following thematic areas for Bachelor/Master Thesis are offered at the Institute for Floodplain Ecology in Rastatt
- Riparian zones-Ecology
- Vegetation science
- Hydromorpholgy and
The topics are sorted according to the offering working groups. Unless otherwise specified, the topics are suitable for both theses in the bachelor's degree and for those in the master's degree. You can also look for a geo-ecological topic externally (examples can be found in the "More" tab). The FAQ page provides information about possible combinations of examiners.
The lists are not complete and it is worth to ask in the working groups what is currently going on. Lecturers are open to further thematic proposals. If you're interested, please direct your requests directly to the supervisors of each group.
The Geomorphology and Soil science group offers exciting topics in the field of biogeochemical processes in temperate and tropical ecosystems.
San Francisco Research Station in the tropical montane forest in Ecuador. Photo: A. Velescu
We investigate particularly the influence of biodiversity, climate and atmospheric deposition on nutrient cycling (i.e. C, N, Ca, K, Mg) and on pollutants in soil and ecosystems.
For currently available topics for Bachelor and Master thesis in the Geomorphology and Soil science group please refer to the German version of our website.
Following thematic areas for Bachelor/Master Thesis are offered at the Institute for Floodplain Ecology in Rastatt
Global effects of individual behaviour in the land sector
Human land use has had substantial impacts around the world, profoundly altering natural systems and processes. Feedbacks in the forms of climatic change and ecosystem collapse are likely to pose serious challenges for humanity in the future, and the land sector will need to adapt if it is to continue supplying essential goods and services. While these changes and their consequences are global in nature, underlying decisions about land management are made by individuals, communities and societies at far smaller scales. This project will involve a meta-analysis of existing evidence about the effects of these small-scale decisions, to uncover the behavioural factors that are important in shaping global-scale land use change. This will feed into improved modelling of the land system under future climate change and policy interventions. For further information contact Calum Brown (calum brown) or Mark Rounsevell ( ∂kit edumark rounsevell). ∂kit edu
Feedbacks between land use and ecosystem service provision
Human land use provides a wide range of ecosystem services, but with many negative consequences and trade-offs. Given the need to feed a growing human population, it is essential to understand how well particular land uses provide particular services, and to what extent they prevent the provision of others. This project will examine the evidence for links and feedbacks between land uses and ecosystem services to allow better modelling and planning of land use change. Existing assessments will be reviewed alongside primary evidence of land use impacts on natural systems, and these will be used to improve model-based representations of land system development. For further information contact Calum Brown (calum brown). ∂kit edu
Improving the representation of European land use change in agent-based models
Human land use has had substantial impacts around the world, profoundly altering natural systems and processes. Feedbacks in the forms of climatic change and ecosystem collapse are likely to pose serious challenges for humanity in the future, and the land sector will need to adapt if it is to continue supplying essential goods and services. Agent-based models allow us to explore how people’s responses to environmental change shape future land use, and are now being applied at European scale. This project will develop an existing agent-based model of European land use change (CRAFTY-EU) to improve its representation of land use processes and consequences. Primary data on land use types and impacts will be combined with reviewed information of land management decision-making to allow modelling with finer resolution than is currently possible, giving new insight into the future of the European land system. There is also an option of developing a version of CRAFTY for Germany. For further information contact Calum Brown (calum brown) or Mark Rounsevell ( ∂kit edumark rounsevell). ∂kit edu
Modelling climate adaptation in patterns of production and consumption
Adaptation to climate change is necessary for the continued production of the goods and services that people require. However, such adaptation can be difficult and disruptive, and tends to occur slowly if at all. One reason for this is that adaptation decisions depend upon individual characteristics and social influences that take time to develop. Building on insights from adaptation psychology and a simple agent-based model of adaptive decision-making in production and consumption sectors (coded in NetLogo), this project will explore the ways in which generic adaptation can develop, spread, and ensure sustainable provision of goods and services under climate change. For further information contact Calum Brown (calum brown). ∂kit edu
Evaluating the performance of past land use change scenarios
The scenario method is used extensively in environmental change assessments, including in the development of alternative projections of land use change. One of the earlier such studies (Ewert et al., 2005; Rounsevell et al., 2005; Rounsevell et al, 2006) used the year 2000 as a baseline and projected European land use change (EU15 at the time) for time slices to the end of the 21st Century. This means that we now have nearly 20 years of observed land use change time series against which to evaluate the performance of these early scenarios. An evaluation is useful in that it provides insights into how land use change models performed, but also to better understand how the drivers of land use change played out in practice. This study will evaluate the performance of these earlier land use change scenarios against the actual land use change since the year 2000, as well as exploring whether the assumptions about the trends in critical land use change drivers (economy, population, social preferences, technology, …) were correct. Contact: Prof. Mark Rounsevell (mark rounsevell) ∂kit edu
Ewert, F., Rounsevell, M.D.A., Reginster, I., Metzger, M. and Leemans, R. (2005). Future scenarios of European agricultural land use. I: Estimating changes in crop productivity. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 107, 101-116
Rounsevell, M.D.A. Ewert, F. Reginster, I., Leemans, R. and Carter, T.R. (2005). Future scenarios of European agricultural land use. II: projecting changes in cropland and grassland. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 107, 117-135
Rounsevell, M.D.A, Reginster, I., Araújo, M.B., Carter, T.R., Dendoncker, N., Ewert, F., House, J.I., Kankaanpää, S., Leemans, R., Metzger, M.J., Schmit, C., Smith, P. and Tuck, G. (2006). A coherent set of future land use change scenarios for Europe. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 114, 57-
Im Klimasystem der Erde spielen die Interaktionen an der Landoberfläche eine besondere Rolle, denn hier treffen die verschiedenen Bereiche Biosphäre, Hydrosphäre, Pedosphäre und Anthroposphäre mit der Atmosphäre zusammen. Vor diesem Hintergrund bieten wir die folgenden Themen für Abschlussarbeiten an:
Bachelor und Master
Evaluierung einer Methode zur Anpassung der Energiebilanzschließung auf verschiedenen Zeitskalen
Bei diesem Thema geht es darum die Methode von De Roo et al. (2018) für unsere Messstationen im TERENO-Voralpen-Observatorium anzuwenden und die Sensitivität gegenüber dem Mittelungsinterval zu untersuchen. Als unabhängige Referenz für die Evapotranspiration dienen die Lysimeter-Daten aus der Studie von Mauder et al. (2018)
De Roo, F., Zhang, S., Huq, S. and Mauder, M.: A semi-empirical model of the energy balance closure in the surface layer, PLoS One, 13(12), e0209022, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0209022, 2018.
Mauder, M., Genzel, S., Fu, J., Kiese, R., Soltani, M., Steinbrecher, R., Kunstmann, H., Zeeman, M., Banerjee, T., Roo, F. De, De Roo, F., Kunstmann, H. and Zeeman, M.: Evaluation of energy balance closure adjustment methods by independent evapotranspiration estimates from lysimeters and hydrological simulations, Hydrol. Process., 32(October), 39–50, doi:10.1002/hyp.11397, 2018.
Spektrale Korrektur der turbulenten Dämpfung bei Wind-Lidar-Daten
Bei diesem Thema sollen die beiden Korrekturverfahren nach Puccioni et al. (2020) und Brugger et al. (2016) für die spektrale Dämpfung von Wind-Lidar-Daten in einen R- oder Python-Code umgesetzt werden. Die Ergebnisse sollen mit einander verglichen werden. Als unabhängige Referenz dienen Windmessungen mit einem Ultraschallanemometer an einem Meteorologischen Turm.
Puccioni, M. and Iungo, G. V.: Spectral correction of turbulent energy damping on wind LiDAR measurements due to range-gate averaging, Atmos. Meas. Tech. Discuss. [preprint], https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2020-27, in review, 2020.
Brugger, P., Träumner, K. and Jung, C.: Evaluation of a procedure to correct spatial averaging in turbulence statistics from a doppler lidar by comparing time series with an ultrasonic anemometer, J. Atmos. Ocean. Technol., 33(10), 2135–2144, doi:10.1175/JTECH-D-15-0136.1, 2016.
Analyse von atmosphärischen Transportprozessen über einer Stadt mit Hilfe von Ensemble-gemittelten Large-Eddy-Simulationen
Theoretische Konzepte zum Austausch von Energie und Luftbeimengungen zwischen der Landoberfläche und der Atmosphäre gehen in der Regel von einer räumlich homogenen Unterlage aus. Aufgrund der ausgeprägten räumlichen Heterogenität einer Stadt durch die Bebauung kann man über solchen urbanen Systemen nicht davon ausgehen, dass diese Annahme erfüllt ist. Die aus der Heterogenität entstehenden Sekundärzirkulationen sollen mit Hilfe von Ensemble-gemittelten Large-Eddy-Simulationen extrahiert werden. Die Simulationsergebnisse für das Modellgebiet in Berlin liegen bereits vor und sind mit Hilfe eines zu erstellenden Auswerte-Skriptes (R/Python) zu analysieren.
Maronga, B. and Raasch, S.: Large-Eddy Simulations of Surface Heterogeneity Effects on the Convective Boundary Layer During the LITFASS-2003 Experiment, Boundary-Layer Meteorol., 146, 17–44, 2013.
Brötz, B., Eigenmann, R., Dörnbrack, A., Foken, T. and Wirth, V.: Early-Morning Flow Transition in a Valley in Low-Mountain Terrain Under Clear-Sky Conditions, Boundary-Layer Meteorol., 152(1), 45–63, doi:10.1007/s10546-014-9921-7, 2014.
Vergleich der Bodenatmung in einem städtischen und einem ländlichen Ökosystem (ab 2022)
Bei diesem Thema sollen Messungen der Bodenatmung an zwei Standorten miteinander verglichen werden, zum einen an dem ICOS-Standort Fendt im TERENO-Voralpen-Observatorium, und zum anderen an einem weiteren noch zu etablierenden Standort in München. Dazu sollen die CO2-Emissionen regelmäßig mit einem automatisierten Messsystem mit einer Messkammer von 20 cm Durchmesser gemessen werden (LiCor-8100A Infrarotgasanalysator, LiCor Inc., Lincoln, NE).
Decina, S. M., Hutyra, L. R., Gately, C. K., Getson, J. M., Reinmann, A. B., Short Gianotti, A. G. and Templer, P. H.: Soil respiration contributes substantially to urban carbon fluxes in the greater Boston area, Environ. Pollut., 212, 433–439, doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2016.01.012, 2016.
Bae, J. and Ryu, Y.: Spatial and temporal variations in soil respiration among different land cover types under wet and dry years in an urban park, Landsc. Urban Plan., 167(August), 378–385, doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2017.07.020, 2017.
Explore climate change or land-use change impacts on ecosystem functioning (such as carbon, nitrogen, water cycles, biome distribution, crop yields...) globally or regionally. Work includes analysis of model simulations using the dynamic global vegetation model LPJ-GUESS for different future scenarios. Work could also include to perform simple simulations by the student for individual locations. The exact question and related analysis will be discussed with the student.
Wildfire damages: The risk for wildfires is expected to increase under climate change and to spread into new areas. As a consequences, damages from wildfire might also increase, as well as costs for fire management. The thesis would be based on 1) a systematic literature review of (recent) past economic and non-economic damages of large wildfires and 2) use the results from the literature review for e.g., a meta-analysis and/or to extract relationships between damages and other societal measures (e.g. combining statistical data and GIS-based analyses).
For someone with knowledge in machine-learning tools — Building a forest emulator model: Forestry is an important factor in climate change: for carbon storage, for providing building materials or for using wood as bioenergy source. But forestry is at the moment not yet well represented in models of land-use change, even though forest-owner decision making on which of these forest uses they prefer will impact forest management greatly. We seek to represent forestry better in the LandSyMM model (Alexander et al., GCB, 2018,10.1111/gcb.14110), which combines natural constraints on vegetation growth with socio-economic supply and demand. To do so we aim to build a forest-growth emulator which allows to rapidly project forest growth per modelled-gridcell in response to climate change and atmospheric CO2; this emulator can then be efficiently coupled within LandSyMM.
Note: Students should be present at IMK-IFU during most of the thesis work to facilitate regular exchange. We can pay a small HiWi contract that helps to cover local accommodation costs. Theses can be written in German or English.
Fuel mapping and wildfire simulations for central European forests; vegetation dynamics on the Tibetan Plateau; forest decline in the Zagros forests, Iran (F. Faßnacht)
Phenological timerseries (F. Hogewind)
Savanna dynamics, invasive alien species (J. Kalwij)
Greening and browning of indigenous forests in New Zealand (S. Schmidtlein).
How do elephants explore a new home range? (booked)
Elephants move across large distances on a daily base. Movement patterns primarily depend on the availability of food and water resources. If resource availability suddenly changes, for example when an existing fence is removed, elephant movement may change too. However, elephants are also habitual animals, relying largely on memory of past resource availability. Newly accessible habitat may, thus, initially not be effectively visited. On the other hand, long-term absence of elephants from an area, results in a relatively high density of elephant-desired food sources such as Sclerocarya birrea or Senegalia nigrescens (syn:. Acacia nigrescens). This may attract elephants to explore the previously inaccessible area. Touchstone Nature Reserve and Lapalala Nature Reserve are neighbouring areas with relatively similar habitat types. Touchstone Nature Reserve has had elephants for decades, while elephants were absent from Lapalala Nature Reserve for more than a century. The fence between these two nature reserves was recently removed, allowing the elephants to freely roam into Lapalala. Ten elephants were fitted with a GPS collar around the time of the fence removal. Some animals were introduced from outside the area. This provides a unique opportunity to study the rate at which elephants explore newly accessible areas.
Veränderung von Ökosystemdienstleistungen von Stadtbäumen in Karlsruhe und Pfinztal
Deep Learning im Wald
Optimizing the co-registration of high-resolution drone imagery with medium-resolution remote sensing data (M.Sc.)
The use of drones in vegetation remote sensing is gaining more and more traction. To enable the synergistic use of high spatial resolution drone imagery and high temporal resolution satellite data, a good co-alignment of both datasets is needed. Based on existing preliminary work, a co-alignment algorithm will be developed and implemented in the proposed project. To evaluate the accuracy of the algorithm and to assess the impact of acquisition parameters (e.g. solar altitude, shadows) drone imagery will be recorded. The development of an R-package is optional. Contact: F. Schiefer.
Mapping biodiversity-related structures in agriculture using Deep Learning (M.Sc.)
Biodiversity-related structures (e.g. hedgerows, ditches, wetlands, solitary trees) are relevant for monitoring biodiversity under national and international guidelines. The goal of the proposed project is to test whether Convolutional Neural Networks can be used to map such structures from high-resolution drone imagery. For this purpose, existing datasets from the Lower Oder Valley National Park, the DEMMIN calibration and validation facility, and from the surroundings of Karlsruhe will be used. Optionally, additional data can be collected as part of the project. Contact: F. Schiefer.
Analyse von Blatt N:P-Verhältnissen zur Bewertung von aktuellen und historischen Nährelementlimitierungen (M.Sc.)
Oft wird Stickstoff als das limitierende Element für Pflanzenwachstum bezeichnet. Erhöhte Stickstoffeinträge führen zu einer Erhöhung seiner Verfügbarkeit in Relation zu Phosphor. Es ist daher wahrscheinlich, dass einige Lebensräume, die früher als N-limitiert galten, mittlerweile P-limitiert sind. Es soll hier geklärt werden, in welchem Zusammenhang das Blatt N:P-Verhältnisse zu Bodennährstoffgehalten steht, ob das Pflanzenwachstum in den untersuchten Lebensräumen N- oder P-limitiert ist und wie sich Blatt N:P-Verhältnisse in aktuellen Blattproben von historischen Proben unterscheiden. Dieser Arbeit umfasst u.a. die Durchführung von chemischen Blattaufschlüssen und die Analyse der P-Gehalte in Zusammenarbeit mit der Arbeitsgruppe Geomorphologie und Bodenkunde (Bastian Bayer). Möglicher Beginn: ab Februar 2021. Kontakt: M. Ewald.
Species mapping using a drone (M.Sc.) (Booked)
The aim of this project is to test if automatic species recognition from consumer-grade RGB aerial imagery can be used in a savanna ecosystem. Specifically, the student will map all the LELE plots (1 ha each; N = 48). Fieldwork is planned for the entire month of March 2021. High-resolution RGB imagery will be captured with a drone. Extensive ground truthing data will be collected for CNN training. The output of this project will serve as baseline for annual monitoring of the impact of mega-herbivores on tree dynamics. Contact: J.M. Kalwij, F. Schiefer.
Impact of mega-herbivore fences on herbivory distribution (M.Sc.) (Booked)
Mega-herbivore fences are designed to prevent elephants from accessing a protected area. Due to the physical design of such fences — an electrified cable at a height of 1.8 m — giraffes are also excluded. Other herbivores are assumed to be unaffected by such fences. The aim of this project is to test the assumption that mega-herbivore fences block access for mega-herbivores only, while non-targeted herbivores remain unaffected. To test this hypothesis, the student will conduct a herbivore presence survey of the LELE plots (1 ha each; N = 48). Species-specific herbivore abundance will be primarily determined from pellets. In addition, animals tracks, data from GPS collars, and camera traps may be used too. Fieldwork is planned end of 2021, or beginning of 2022. The output of this project will serve as a foundation to quantify the effectiveness of the LELE exclosure plots. Contact: J.M. Kalwij.
Dynamics and mechanisms of secondary forests in tropical forests (M. Sc.)
Deforestation has led to overwhelming reduction of old-growth tropical forests. In the Amazon forests alone, an area of approximately two times the size of Germany (~760,550 km²) has been deforested since the 1970's. Meanwhile, secondary succession that regrow on abandoned deforested or agricultural lands increased in extent. Natural regrowth through secondary succession, i.e., the regrowth after nearly complete removal of forest cover for agricultural use, is of paramount importance for disturbed areas to recover, as well as, an important factor of the resilience of tropical forests. The rapid rate of carbon sequestration through regeneration can reach up to 11 times the carbon uptake rate of old-growth forests. The aim of this project is to assess the dynamics and trajectories of secondary forests over tropical ecosystems and evaluate the environmental conditions and anthropogenic disturbance post recovery to support conservation on forest regrowth. We will use multi-temporal and high-spatial resolution airborne LiDAR data to quantify structural and changes and associated carbon dynamics over a large patch of secondary forests in eastern Amazon, Brazil. Contact: Y. Mendes, F. Faßnacht.
In addition, externally conducted theses can also be carried out (please check the details in the regulations). The following overview is intended to make it easier to find lecturers at the Institute for Geography and Geoecology who are available as examiners for such external work. The compilation is not complete.
Botanik: Damm, Egger, Kalwij, Schmidtlein, Wittmann
Fernerkundung: Fassnacht, Schmidtlein
Meteorolgie: Mauder, Norra
Zoologie: Schmidtlein, Wittmann