Bornhöveder Seengebiet

Bornhöved Lake District

Main water divide between the North- and Baltic Sea

Bornhöved Lake District in Schleswig-Holstein is part of the young moraine landscape of northern Germany and is dominated by six lakes and their connecting watercourses. The landscape is characterized by waters, areas of arable land, grassland, deciduous forests, hedgerows and tree-lined roads. The land is mainly used for agriculture.

In this area the main water divide between the North and the Baltic Sea is situated. The sampling area covers 52 km2.

  • All six lakes are predominantly eutrophic and have a high biological productivity.
  • They can be characterized as dimictic-holomictic lakes with a distinct temperature stratification during the summer.
  • There is only little tourism.
  • The lakes are used for fishery.
  • Anthropogenic impacts originate mostly from agriculture.
  • The hydrologic balance is disturbed by drainage.
  • Open gravel and sand pits lead to further disturbances in the hydrologic balance of the area.

Between 1988 and 1999 the sampling site was in the focus of an extensive long-term research programme named Ecosystem Research in the Bornhöveder Lake District of the Centre for Ecology of the University of Kiel.

The Bornhöved Lake District is an example of an ecosystem utilised for agricultural purposes.


  • Sub-area dominated by stretches of water in the young moraine landscape of East Holstein


  • Common mussel species as invasive animal in rivers and lakes with high information level for water pollution
  • Bioindicator in rivers and lakes
  • A major primary producer in semi-natural and anthropogenic affected ecosystems.
  • As the most dominant deciduous tree species in Central Europe, it plays a significant role in most nearly natural and also anthropogenically influenced forest ecosystems up to an altitude of 1100 m.
  • The roe deer is the most common of the larger herbivores (first order-consumer) to be found in the wild in Europe.
  • A pigeon species home in nearly every city.
  • As an organism living at ground level, it is a major driver of the decomposition of organic material (e.g. plant litter).
  • Soil is livelihood and biosphere for humans, animals, plants and soil organisms. All the substances brought in are transported, transformed and/or accumulated in the soil.


Sampling period

1989 - 2023