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Geoecology ( Greek  γῆ "earth", οἶκος oikos "house (attitude)" and λόγος logos "sense") is a sub- discipline of environmental science and geosciences . The term geoecology is used by these two disciplines with significantly different priorities. The focus of geoecology is the consideration of natural environmental systems and their influence by humans.

Geoecology can be studied as an independent course at six universities in Germany .

Geoecology in environmental science

Definition and self-image

According to the definition coined by the Association for Geoecology in Germany (VGöD)

"Geoecology [...] a cross-sectional environmental science. She wants to understand the complex relationships and interactions in the environment in order to recognize, analyze and solve problems in the field of tension between humans and the environment. "

Geoecology places ecology in a spatial context on different scales of a few square or cubic centimeters (in contrast to geography, where there is a minimum area or space and, for example, the chemistry of a drop of water or the material balance of a tree are not the subject of the investigation ) range over several kilometers to global issues. In environmental systems, physical , chemical and biological processes run simultaneously and are interlinked. In addition, all of these processes are very heterogeneous in terms of space and time.

Geoecology is based on the understanding of these various processes in order to ultimately analyze the complex real environmental systems and understand their various interconnections. It conducts basic research as well as the application of the knowledge gained to various environmental problems. In doing so, she makes use of the wealth of methods from many disciplines, from working in the field and in the laboratory to creating complex simulation models on the computer.

According to this understanding, geoecology includes both geoscientific subjects such as soil sciences or hydrology as well as biological-ecological subjects. Disciplines such as environmental chemistry as well as geo and environmental informatics or remote sensing are also components of a geoecology understood in this way.

Course of study

The course (diploma) has existed since 1978 (first in Bayreuth ) and had around 1700 graduates by 2004. Geoecology can now be studied as an independent course at six universities in Germany: In Bayreuth , Braunschweig , Potsdam , Tübingen , Freiberg and Karlsruhe .

The essential contents of the Bachelor's degree are subject to the minimum requirements that the University Conference on Geoecology has set for harmonizing the training profile. Such minimum requirements were also the basis for the basic studies in the diploma courses. The job-related specialization in the bachelor's degree and the content of the consecutive master’s courses differ depending on the profile of the study location. A problem-free change of the place of study after the bachelor's is ensured by the requirements of the university conference.

Position within the environmental and geosciences

Understood as environmental science, geoecology is of course very broad and combines many disciplines. Geoecology deals with physical, chemical and biological processes always under the aspect of their importance for the functioning of ecosystems.

Mainly economic and social sciences as well as exclusively technical and legal aspects of environmental sciences are not the subject of geoecology. The scientific requirements for technical and social solutions to environmental problems are, however, part of their area of ​​responsibility.

Geoecology has a similar relationship to its neighboring disciplines in the geosciences: It overlaps with other subjects where these deal with environmental aspects. This is the case, for example, in catchment area hydrology , environmental geology / environmental geochemistry or exploring the near-surface subsurface using geophysical methods. Geoecology, for example, does not deal with purely technical aspects of hydraulic engineering, the exploration of raw material deposits (geology) or earthquake research (geophysics).


Association for Geoecology in Germany V.

The Association for Geoecology in Germany e. V. (VGöD) is a non-profit association based in Bayreuth. He sees his tasks particularly in the promotion of geoecology as a modern environmental science and quality assurance in training as well as service work for students and professionals. The VGöD was founded in 1986 - at that time as the "Association of Geoecologists (VdG)". It now has over 500 members, about half of whom are employed and half are students.

University Conference Geoecology

Since 1997, all German universities offering the geoecology course have joined forces in the University Conference on Geoecology (HSK). The Association for Geoecology in Germany e. V. (VGöD) as well as representatives of the professional practice belong to it. The University Conference on Geoecology sees its tasks in particular in securing quality standards in training and currently in supporting the study locations during the transition to the new tiered Bachelor / Master courses.

Federal Student Union Conference on Geoecology

The Federal Student Council (BuFaTa) Geoecology is the nationwide student body for the subject. All six study locations are represented in it. The BuFaTa Geoecology usually meets once a year in May or June. It does not send delegates to the university conference because the student councils already nominate student representatives from the locations.

Geoecology in Physical Geography

In physical geography there are several directions which either equate geoecology with a geographically understood landscape ecology or designate a sub-area of ​​landscape ecology as geoecology. Sometimes even the entire physical geography is referred to as geoecology. The following schools stand out in particular:

Geoecology = landscape ecology

In the GDR , geoecology was often equated with landscape ecology and understood in terms of applied spatial location studies. From 1985 there was an Institute for Geography and Geoecology at the Academy of Sciences .

In terms of content, this interpretation is linked to the understanding of geoecology as a science of landscape-ecological spatial structure , as represented by the Geo-ecological spatial structure working group of the German Academy for Regional Studies .

Geoecology vs. Bioecology

Some physical geographers see geoecology as the science of the inanimate part of the landscape, i.e. the physical-chemical processes in landscapes . According to them, bioecology deals with biotic processes, while landscape ecology integrates these two perspectives. Sometimes this view is narrowed down even more by assigning geomorphology and Quaternary research the central place in the abiotic side of landscape ecology / geoecology.

The weakness of this definition is often seen in the practical inseparability of biotic and abiotic processes on the landscape level. The complementary term "bioecology" has not established itself either in Germany or internationally. However, some of this definition has already found its way into geography textbooks.

Concept history

The term "geoecology" was first used by the geographer Carl Troll in 1966 as an English translation of the landscape ecology he founded . In the Anglo-Saxon language area, however, the term could not prevail against the literal translation "landscape ecology".

The independent study course in geoecology and the conception of geoecology as environmental science were founded in Bayreuth in 1978, largely on the initiative of the hydrologist Reimer Herrmann . The course was created as a spin-off from geography, so that in Bayreuth, physical geography can also access the geoecology courses and vice versa. Geoecology is an independent course of study mainly in the Federal Republic of Germany. In the English-speaking world, the term "environmental studies" exists.

Geoecology in other countries


At ETH Zurich , a degree course comparable to German geoecology is called Environmental Sciences .


The Institute for Geography and Regional Research at the University of Vienna has been offering geoecology as a major in the master’s program since 2010 . Environmental systems science is offered at the Institute for Geography and Spatial Research at the University of Graz . This differs from the study of geoecology in the following respects: Environmental systems scientists choose a focus (chemistry, physics, geography, business administration or economics), which makes up 105 of the 180 credit points in the bachelor's degree. It is therefore an interdisciplinary addition to a specialist course of a, with the exception of geography, non-geoscientific, e.g. Partly also not scientific discipline. The study of geoecology, for example at the TU Bergakademie Freiberg , on the other hand, is essentially geoscientific and clearly scientifically oriented with a common compulsory area of ​​165 of the 180 credit points.

English speaking area

In the English-speaking world, geoecology is used quite rarely and inconsistently. Hits in search engines or mentions of the term in scientific journals usually refer to German geoecologists or geoecological institutes in Germany.

The usual English environmental sciences are often used in the geoscientific sense and the term science already refers to the natural scientific method. Overall, however, environmental sciences are used just as widely as German environmental sciences . That is why the Association for Geoecology in Germany recommends using the term geoecology , although it is unusual: It makes sense to limit environmental sciences and is self-explanatory for someone who is not familiar with the German debate about the term.


In Japan, on the other hand, geoecology seems to have prevailed for landscape ecology instead of landscape ecology . In Denmark and Sweden, too, the term geo-ecology is used at least occasionally in this sense or in the sense of environmental science.


The Inter-universitair Centrum voor Geo-ecologische onderzoek / Center for Geo-ecological research in the Netherlands coordinates research and teaching of several universities on the subject of landscape development and geohazards. In part, geo-ecology in the Netherlands is also used in the sense of global ecology.

Central and Eastern Europe as well as the former Soviet Union

In some countries of Central and Eastern Europe as well as in the former Soviet Union, geoecology is used in the sense of physical geography or geographically oriented landscape ecology. In Russia , it has been replacing the concept of biogeozoenology introduced by Sukatchef in 1944 since the 1970s. In this sense, there are institutes of geoecology at the Russian Academy of Sciences and several universities. Outside of Russia there are institutes for geoecology oriented in this way in Poland , the Czech Republic , Slovakia , Romania and Mongolia, among others .


For definition

  • E. Brunotte , H. Gebhardt, M. Meurer et al. (Ed.): Lexicon of Geography. Spectrum Academic Publishing House, Heidelberg 2001–2002.
  • T. Buttschardt : What does geoecology stand for? In: FORUM der Geoökologie 12 (1), 2001, pp. 38–41. ISSN  0939-6632
    (Supplementary explanations of the definition from the Lexicon of Geography and a summary of the history of the term. With a balanced list of further literature.)
  • O. Blumenstein, H. Schachtzabel, H. Barsch, H.-R. Bork , U. Küppers: Basics and concepts of geoecology. Springer, Heidelberg / Berlin 2000.
    (On the theory of geoecology in environmental sciences.)
  • H. Readers : Landscape Ecology and Geoecology. Approaches problems, perspectives. In: M. Meurer, T. Buttschardt (Hrsg.): Geoecology in teaching, research, application. Karlsruhe Writings on Geography and Geoecology, Vol. 7, 1997, 1–12
    (On geoecology in the field of tension between physical geography and environmental sciences - from the perspective of a geographer.)

To study

  • O. Stüdemann: Aspects of Geoecology , Weissensee-Verlag, Berlin 2008, ISBN 9783899981278
  • T. Buttschardt: Sheets about professional studies: Diplom-Geoecologist / Diplom-Geoökologist (Dipl.-Geoökol.) . Bundesanstalt für Arbeit (Ed.), W. Bertelsmann, Bielefeld 1999.
    (Official information from the BA on studies, but only on the expiring diploma.)

Web links

Wiktionary: Ecology  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Geoecology in Germany

Geoecology in other countries

Individual evidence

  1. Of course in the sense of naturogenic, i.e. not created by humans. Not: Of course, in the sense of unchanged. See also: nature
  2. ^ Association for Geoecology in Germany e. V. and University Conference Geoecology (2005): Studying geoecology. (pdf; 702 kB)
  3. ^ O. Richter: Specialized generalists . In: FORUM der Geoökologie 11 (2), 2000, pp. 4–8. ISSN  0939-6632
  4. G. Streck: The geoecology and the job market. Results of the employer survey - second part . In: FORUM der Geoökologie 15 (3), 2004, pp. 12–15. ISSN  0939-6632
  5. C. Beierkuhnlein: Geoecology - Position and demarcation from its neighboring disciplines . In: FORUM der Geoökologie 10 (1), 1999, pp. 29–31. ISSN  0939-6632
  6. ^ J. Heinzmann et al .: The Institute of Geography and Geoecology of the Academy of Sciences . GeoJournal 22 (2), 1990, pp. 205-207.
  7. A. Burak, H. Zepp (2003): Geo-ecological landscape types . In: Institut für Länderkunde, Leipzig (Hrsg.): National Atlas Federal Republic of Germany. Relief, soil and water . Heidelberg / Berlin, pp. 28–29
    On the same understanding of geoecology on a global level: J. Schulz: Die Ökozone der Erde . UTB Ulmer, Stuttgart 2002, 3rd completely reworked. Ed. (1st ed. 1988).
  8. First and most consequently probably by Heinrich Rohdenburg , cf. H. Rohdenburg: Landscape Ecology - Geomorphology . Catena-Paperback, Cremlingen-Destedt 1989 (posthumous), ISBN 3-923381-15-8 , pp. 3-4. The accompanying lecture notes are typically called "Geoecology - Geomorphology": C. Dalchow: Lecture evaluations Heinrich Rohdenburg: Geoecology - Geomorphology . Catena-Paperback, Cremlingen-Destedt, 1989, ISBN 3-923381-21-2 .
  9. BRUNOTTE E & al. (2001), BUTTSCHARDT T (2001) and BLUMENSTEIN O (2000) see literature . Compare the discussions on the articles Ecology , Bioecology and Ecology (Biology) in the German-language Wikipedia.
  10. C. Troll: Landscape Ecology (Geoecology) and Biocoenology. A terminological study . In: Rev. Roum. Géol. et Géogr. - Série de Géographie , Tome 14, 1970, No. 1: pp. 9-18.
  11. ( Memento of the original from June 11, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 171 kB)  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. ( Memento of the original dated November 30, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 197 kB)  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  13. B. Vester, G. Schmidt: What's Geoökologie in English? In: FORUM der Geoökologie 17 (3), 2006, pp. 24–25. ISSN  0939-6632
  14. ^ T. Koizumi: Recent progress in geoecology in Japan . In: Geographical review of Japan . Series B 69 (2), 1996, pp. 160-169
  15. Геоэкология (geoecology) in the Russian-language Wikipedia
    V. Sukatchef: Principles of genetic classification in Biogeocoenology . Zh. Obshch. Biol. (USSR) 6, 1944 (Russian). And V. Sukatchef: Biogeocoenology and Phytocoenology . Readings of the Academy of Sciences USSR 4: g, 1945, (Russian).