10. September 2020

Collaborative research centre on extreme drought enters second funding phase Collaborative research centre on extreme drought enters second funding phase

In the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) 1211 "Earth - Evolution at the Dry Limit", the mutual relationships between landscape development and the evolution of life are being investigated. The German Research Foundation has extended the CRC and will fund it with approximately eleven million euros over the next four years.

Vegetation in Pan de Azúca:
Vegetation in Pan de Azúca: - Coastal cordillera north of Chañaral (Chile). © Dietmar Quandt
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While the Chilean part of the Atacama Desert was the focus of the first funding phase, the researchers will also conduct research in the Namib in Namibia in the coming period. "We are very pleased to be funded for another four years," says spokesperson Professor Dr. Tibor Dunai. "This gives us the opportunity to deepen our existing knowledge, to pursue further research questions and to foster new cooperations." The CRC 1211 is a joint project of the Universities of Cologne (Host University) and Bonn and the RWTH Aachen University.  

An international team of more than 80 scientists from different disciplines works together in the Collaborative Research Centre. "Combining the results from the research areas has great potential to significantly advance our understanding of our planet," adds Dunai. With their research area, they occupy a scientific niche that offers an enormously relevant and exciting field for explaining the fundamental processes of our planet, not least in times of global climate change. “Especially the interaction of the organismal and abiotic research projects is a fundamental aspect of the CRC,” emphasizes Professor Dr. Dietmar Quandt from the Nees Institute for Plant Biodiversity of the University of Bonn and co-speaker of the CRC1211.

For example, biologists of the University of Bonn investigate the kinship relationships of plant populations that grow in landscapes with practically no rain, as well as the distribution and activity of their associated microorganisms. Geologists take and analyze drill cores to reconstruct the desert climate of the last 2 million years. Meteorologists use weather stations and satellites to investigate the relationships between land, sea and atmosphere. Geomorphological projects determine the influence of the extremely dry conditions in the desert on the formation of landscapes.
Sampling of Eulychnia
Sampling of Eulychnia - from the cactus plants in the coastal cordillera south of Antofagasta for population genetic studies © Dietmar Quandt
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