The initial development stages of geo-ecosystems are characterized by highly dynamic abiotic and biotic processes. This results in the rapid formation and alteration of structures, which in turn constitute a new framework for new processes. The complexity of structure-process interactions requires interdisciplinary and integrative research approaches in the fields of geomorphology, ecology, biology, soil science, hydrology and environmental modelling.

The Transregional Collaborative Research Centre (SFB/TRR) 38 examines a central hypothesis in ecosystem research: The initial ecosystem development phase forms the later state of ecosystems. For this reason, the collaborative research centre investigates an artificial water catchment starting from the point zero of its primary development in combination with experimental verifications of identified processes and structures, including their interactions. The SFB/TRR 38 is characterized by a highly interdisplinary collaboration between geoscientists, biologists and hydrologists from three universities and partner institutes in Germany and Switzerland. Young scientists, namely PhD students and Postdocs, constitute the vast majority of the scientific staff.

The integrative approach of the collaborative research centre gives the opportunity to bring together young scientists from the various fields of ecosystem research in the framework of the next MYRES conference in 2010. The presentation of the SFB/TRR 38, together with keynote speeches from senior scientists, will be an ideal introduction to the topics of modern ecosystem research. The nearby unique artificial catchment is best suited for a field trip that demonstrates both the complexity of an evolving initial ecosystem and the challenges of a comprehensive monitoring programme. Scheduled conference sessions will center around structures and processes of initial landform evolution, initial soil development and the initial development of vegetation patterns and biocoenoses.

The conference will be held at the Brandenburg University of Technology in Cottbus, about 125 km southeast of Berlin. The local member of the SFB/TRR 38, the Research Center Landscape Development and Mining Landscapes, is one of Germany's leading research institutes dealing with the manifold ecological problems of post-mining landscapes. Currently it is the workplace of researchers from more than ten disciplines. The University of Cottbus is host to students from more than 80 countries and is located within an area of famous cities offering both a rich cultural heritage and dazzling social life (e.g. Berlin, Potsdam, Dresden and Leipzig). For nature lovers, the nearby Spreewald forest offers an extensive network of picturesque waterways and trails.