Research background
The impact of matter input from terrestrial sources on aquatic systems is well known. The reverse process, i.e. the transport from water (source) to land (sink) in aquatic-terrestrial meta-ecosystems, has received less attention.


Research objective

In SystemLink, we focus on the bottom-up and top-down mediated interactions in terrestrial ecosystems, which propagate from aquatic environments as a result of their exposure to anthropogenic stress. We consider micropollutants (fungicides and insecticides) and invasive species (riparian plants and invertebrates) as important manifestations of multiple stressors in disturbed aquatic ecosystems.



We hypothesise that 1) invasive invertebrates and insecticide exposure and 2) invasive riparian plants and fungicide exposure cause top-down and bottom-up mediated responses in terrestrial ecosystems, respectively. We test these general and several more specific hypotheses through collaborative experiments in replicated outdoor aquatic-terrestrial mesocosms (site-scale) amended by joint pot experiments (batch-scale), field studies (landscape-scale), and modelling.


Research approach

All experimental setups will be derived from the landscape scale representing a multi-stress environment. Several scales will regularly be combined to overcome scale-specific restrictions and to ensure both cause-effect quantification as well as environmental relevance of the results. Ultimately, SystemLink thrives to increase our knowledge on effect translation across ecosystem boundaries. By integrating biogeochemical fluxes and biological subsidies, 12 postgrduate researchers (PhD students) will be able to quantify their relative importance. Furthermore, SystemLink will closely combine the often-separated aquatic and terrestrial research areas


Qualification program

The qualification program comprises three elemental bases:

  • First, research teams of three doctoral researchers will work on related scientific problems; their cooperation will become evident through joint presentations and scientific publications.
  • Second, the establishment of a fast-track study will promote the scientific career of talented students from secondary school until the PhD phase.
  • Third, each participating doctoral researcher will receive a documented and regularly updated Research and Study Profile tailoring their PhD program to their individual needs.


The principal investigators represent a variety of complementary disciplines. Their cooperation forms the basis for the interdisciplinary research focus on “environment” as one of three central topics at the University Koblenz-Landau.


Further reading:

Schulz, R.; Bundschuh, M.; Gergs, R.; Brühl, C. A.; Diehl, D.; Entling, M. H.; Fahse, L.; Frör, O.; Jungkunst, H. F.; Lorke, A.; Schäfer, R. B.; Schaumann, G. E.; Schwenk, K. Review on environmental alterations propagating from aquatic to terrestrial ecosystems. Sci. Total Environ. 2015, 538, 246-261 [Link].