DFG project „Integrated modelling of the response of aquatic ecosystems to land use and climate change in the Poyang lake region, China”

Catchment properties, instream processes and their effects on aquatic organisms are closely linked, but the interaction of key driving forces, processes and possible feedback mechanism are yet not well understood. The aim of our project is thus the development of an integrated modelling methodology to assess the impact of fast environmental changes on aquatic ecosystems in the example catchment of the Changjiang in the Poyang lake area (China). Joint measurement and sampling campaigns will be the basis for integrating three different models: we aim to model a dynamic DPSI(R)-system, for the first time coupling the models SWAT (catchment processes), HEC-RAS (instream processes) and BIOMOD (biological responses). Major drivers (climate, land use, channel alteration) are model input data, while the main pressures on the ecosystem (water balance, nutrients, sedimentation) are defined and represented in the model algorithms of SWAT and HEC-RAS. Based on the multiple pressures, we aim to dynamically assess the changes of the state of habitat parameters (e.g. flow, depth, substrate) in the model output. Finally, the impact of the state on the aquatic ecosystems will be evaluated by analysing shift of distribution ranges modelled by BIOMOD and changes in biodiversity or ecosystem health indicators of benthic invertebrates, an important group in freshwater ecosystems. Joint scenario runs considering climate or land use changes will particularly enhance understanding (1) how landscape processes and nutrient cycles interact with ecohydrological and aquatic system properties and (2) how the impact of land use, climate and hydromorphological change on aquatic ecosystem properties can be assessed.




  • Prof. Dr. Nicola Fohrer, Institute for the Conservation of Natural Resources, Dep. Hydrology and Water Resources Management, Kiel University

  • Dr. Sonja Jähnig, Dep. Limnology and Conservation, Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum


Responsible Scientists:

  • Dr. Britta Schmalz, Institute for the Conservation of Natural Resources, Dep. Hydrology and Water Resources Management, Kiel University

  • Mathias Kuemmerlen, Dep. Limnology and Conservation, Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum


Chinese Cooperation partner:

  • Prof. Dr. Qinghua CAI, Research Group on Systems Ecology and Watershed Ecology, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, China



  • KUEMMERLEN, M., DOMISCH, S., SCHMALZ, B., CAI, Q., FOHRER, N., JÄHNIG, S.C. (2012): Integrierte Modellierung von aquatischen Ökosystemen in China: Arealbestimmung von Makrozoobenthos auf Einzugsgebietsebene. Hydrologie und Wasserbewirtschaftung 56(4): 185-192.

  • KUEMMERLEN, M., SCHMALZ, B., GUSE, B., CAI, Q., FOHRER, N. & JÄHNIG, S.C. (2014): Integrating catchment properties in small scale species distribution models of stream macroinvertebrates. Ecological Modelling 277: 77-86.
  • KUEMMERLEN, M., SCHMALZ, B., CAI, Q., HAASE, P., FOHRER, N. & JÄHNIG, S.C. (2015): An attack on two fronts: predicting how changes in land use and climate affect the distribution of stream macroinvertebrates. Freshwater Biology, doi:10.1111/fwb.12580.
  • SCHMALZ, B., KUEMMERLEN, M., STREHMEL, A., SONG, S., CAI, Q., JÄHNIG, S. & FOHRER, N. (2012): Integrierte Modellierung von aquatischen Ökosystemen in China: Ökohydrologie und Hydraulik. Hydrologie und Wasserbewirtschaftung 56(4): 169-184.

  • SCHMALZ, B., KUEMMERLEN, M., JÄHNIG, S.C. & FOHRER, N. (2014): Integrierte ökohydrologische Modellierung von aquatischen Ökosystemen in China mittels Abschätzung des Wasser- und Sedimenthaushaltes unter derzeitiger und künftiger Landnutzung. Forum für Hydrologie und Wasserbewirtschaftung der FgHW Heft 34.14: 231-236. ISBN: 978-3-944328-61-4.
  • SCHMALZ, B., KUEMMERLEN, M., KIESEL, J., CAI, Q., JÄHNIG, S.C. & FOHRER, N. (2015): Impacts of land use changes on hydrological components and macroinvertebrate distributions in the Poyang lake area. Ecohydrology 8(6): 1119-1136. DOI: 10.1002/eco.1569.
  • SCHMALZ, B., ZHANG, Q., KUEMMERLEN, M., CAI, Q., JÄHNIG, S.C. & FOHRER, N. (2015): Modelling spatial distribution of surface runoff and sediment yield in a Chinese river basin without continuous sediment monitoring. Hydrological Sciences Journal 60(5): 801-824. DOI: 10.1080/02626667.2014.967245.
  • SONG, S., SCHMALZ, B., HÖRMANN, G. & FOHRER, N. (2012): Accuracy, reproducibility and sensitivity of acoustic Doppler technology for velocity and discharge measurements in medium-sized rivers. Hydrological Sciences Journal 57(8): 1626–1641.


Project duration:

  • May 2010 - April 2013