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University of Bayreuth, Press Release No 038/2023 - 03 April 2023

University of Bayreuth shows "The thin skin of the earth - our soils"

An exhibition and numerous activities for the public, especially for families and schoolchildren, raise awareness of the topic of "soil".

Erosion and sealing destroy fertile soil - on a scale that the earth can no longer afford in view of climate change. The importance of healthy soils for us humans, whether for our food, as a water filter or climate saviour, is shown in the interactive exhibition "The Thin Skin of the Earth - Our Soils" by the Senckenberg Museum für Naturkunde Görlitz, which is now coming to Bayreuth.

"What is soil actually, which creatures inhabit it and what benefits does it bring us humans? We want to raise and answer these questions," explains Prof. Dr Johanna Pausch, an agroecologist at the University of Bayreuth, who is organising the exhibition in Bayreuth together with the Ecological-Botanical Garden and the BayCEER. "The exhibition is especially designed for families and school classes. Upon entering, visitors shrink to the size of a woodlouse and immerse themselves in a micro-world previously unknown to them," she quotes the exhibition organisers as saying. On display are 3D models, microscopic images, interactive elements, films and multimedia units in four thematic chambers. Knowledge about different soil types, the latest soil research, soil destruction as well as measures for soil protection are also conveyed. "The condition of soils has a decisive influence on food security, clean drinking water and our climate. Soil protection plays a central role if sustainability goals are to be met, climate protection pursued and biodiversity preserved," says Prof. Pausch. 

The activities are financed with the support of the Rainer Markgraf Foundation, the Upper Franconia Foundation, the University Association, the internal funding pool "Outreach", the Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Geosciences and by the BayCEER.

The exhibition will be on display in the Ecological-Botanical Garden of the University of Bayreuth from 16 April 2023 to 22 October 2023; opening hours: Monday to Friday 10 A.M. to 3 P.M.; Sundays and Holidays 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. 

Research and Studying

At the University of Bayreuth, research is conducted into soil processes, soil functions and the interrelationship between soils and climate change, with a focus on extreme climatic events such as heavy rainfall or droughts. The Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research (BayCEER) combines the competences of around 30 working groups in the biological and earth sciences. Not only experts from soil ecology, soil physics, microbiology, agroecosystem research or animal and plant ecology "dig" in the soil. Students in particular benefit from this Bayreuth-typical interdisciplinarity: Only in Bayreuth can they study geoecology with such a strong focus on "soils". This is unique in Germany.


The exhibition will be flanked by numerous offers: (this list will be continuously updated at https://www.bayceer.uni-bayreuth.de/boden/.)  

Workshop for Girls' Day participants on 27.04.2023 (09:00-12:00), Ecological-Botanical Garden, University of Bayreuth (Registration: https://www.uni-bayreuth.de/girls-day)

Series of lectures - among others in the context of the City Talks - on these dates: (18:00 each) https://www.bayceer.uni-bayreuth.de/boden/de/aktuelles/termine/termine.php?t_kat_id=81673

  • Wed. 03.05.2023 Prof. Johanna Pausch: Soil as a habitat
  • Wed. 24.05.2023 Prof. Michaela Dippold, Geosphere-Biosphere Interactions, University of Tübingen: Soil as a storehouse for nutrients     
  • Wed. 28.06.2023 Prof. Dr. Wulf Amelung, General Soil Science and Soil Ecology, University of Bonn: Soils as Carbon Reservoirs for Climate Control   
  • Wed. 19.07.2023 Prof. Eva Lehndorff, Soil Ecology, BayCEER / University of Bayreuth: Soils - Archives of the Past  
  • Wed. 09.08.2023 Dr. Norman Gentsch, Institute of Soil Science, Leibniz University Hannover: Healthy Soils - Biomass Production for Food Security         
  • Wed. 13.09.2023 Dr. Frederic Leuther, Soil Physics, BayCEER / University of Bayreuth: Soils as filters and reservoirs of water for clean drinking water
  • Wed. 11.10.2023 Prof. Tillmann Lüders, Ecological Microbiology, BayCEER / University of Bayreuth: Microorganisms in Soil - Degradation of Microplastics and other Soil Pollutants

Virtual Reality Action Days: A unique excursion into the litter layer, the pore space and the water films in the soil and an encounter with springtails, horn mites, white worms and a millipede at eye level. This works by means of so-called virtual reality glasses - the real environment is faded out and you find yourself in the tunnel system of an earthworm, where the now larger-than-life ground dwellers run into you. A controller serves as a torch and at the touch of a button you move through the corridors. Suitable for children from the age of six and adults alike.  Time slots of 15 minutes each on the VR action days must be booked online in advance: https://www.bayceer.uni-bayreuth.de/boden/de/aktuelles/termine/detail.php?id_obj=168114.

Two environmental education programmes in the Ecological-Botanical Garden take up themes from the exhibition in interactive workshops for groups: "So`n Dreck! The fascination of soil and what it has to do with you" and "Water reservoirs for town and country". The target group and duration must be agreed upon when registering. Guided tours of the exhibition can also be booked.

Registration for group offers is done through the secretariat of the Ecological-Botanical Garden. Contact: Heike Schwarzer; phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-2961; e-mail: obg@uni-bayreuth.de  Web: https://www.obg.uni-bayreuth.de/en/gartenbesuch/index.html

Prof. Dr. Johanna Pausch

Prof. Dr. Johanna Pausch

Professorship Agroecology

Tel.: +49 (0)921 55-2292
Mail: Johanna.Pausch@uni-bayreuth.de

Portraitbild von Anja Maria Meister

Anja-Maria Meister

PR Spokesperson University of Bayreuth

Phone: +49 (0) 921  55 - 5300
E-mail: anja.meister@uni-bayreuth.de