Project ILES

The project "Illuminating lake ecosystems — ILES" aims at elucidating the ecological consequences of light pollution and the underlying mechanisms. The experiments are performed in the LakeLab, where skyglow is simulated in 10 enclosures using a specially developed light system.


ILES start page

Public relations contact

Dr. Martina Bauchrowitz
(Public relations LakeLab)

Phone: +49 (0)151 40 38 09 62

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ILES – Illuminating Lake Ecosystems

Monday, 26.09.2016

From Costa del Sol to Lake Stechlin

Guest scientists from Spain didn't forget to bring warm coats and scarfs

In addition to German and English, Spanish is the most frequently used language at the LakeLab this year. Six Spanish guests, including Professor Maria Segovia Azcorra and her two doctoral students Charo Lorenzo Garrido and Victor Vazquez Manzanares from the University of Malaga, take part in this year's LakeLab experiment on the effects of light pollution. Their special research field is the stress physiology of phytoplankton in marine systems however this summer the three "Málagueños" exchanged the Mediterranean Sea against Lake Stechlin.

Although she is intensely involved in the teaching of her department of ecology and geology at the University of Malaga,her heart beats for working in the field and in the lab, says Maria Segovia. Therefore she didn’t hesitate to collaborate on this year's LakeLab experiment and decided to spend two months in her teaching free time at Lake Stechlin. And because she thought that her two doctoral students could only benefit from the participation in such a large-scale field study with an international team of researchers, she proposed Charo Lorenzo Garrido and Victor Vazquez Manzanares to join her on the project.


Maria Segovia working at the LakeLab.

Charo Lorenzo with a plankton net.

Victor Vazquez (left) with the Paraguayan colleague Gregorio López Moreira.


Together they examine how phytoplankton responds to light pollution and would like to know whether these organisms react with stress symptoms to skyglow that is simulated using LED light systems at the LakeLab this year. The sampled phytoplankton is therefore treated with three different fluorescent markers and subsequently inspected with the flowcam or under the microscope. This reveals whether the cells are dead or alive and whether they suffer under oxidative stress. Because stress can reduce or completely stop the photosynthetic activity, the phytoplankton is additionally studied by the so-called water-PAM – a device that measures the photosynthetic electron transfer rate.


In fact, Maria Segovia had developed and fine-tuned these methods for the analysis of marine phytoplankton. But because freshwater phytoplankton is less robust, it took several days before the protocols were adapted with a faster and smoother procedure. These modified protocols are now used to analyze phytoplankton that is sampled weekly both during the day and the night from the different illuminated enclosures.


Text and photographs: Martina Bauchrowitz, IGB

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