What an exciting (and early) morning! The new GCE cohort from 2023 met on the 13th of October 2023 at 7:45 am at the GEO bus stop to start our first trip together as the new cohort. Together with Prof. Köllner, we got to explore interesting and beautiful places in Upper Franconia, an area that most of us were unfamiliar with.
Since surprisingly many of us were on time we started at 8 am to drive southwest out of Bayreuth. Equipped with maps, information sheets and nice land use and biodiversity maps, we looked forward to our first stop, the fossil excavation site in Mistelgau.
Fossils in Mistelgau
A place that is worldwide famous for a huge amount of fossil findings, up to complete skeletons of dinosaurs. Famous worldwide… except in Bayreuth and the surrounding area, as Prof. Köllner explained to us. After some detailed explanations from a local guide and “fossil-searcher” (in the original Franconian language) we got to roam around by ourselves and discover some beautiful bits and pieces from 200 million years ago. Unimaginable that Upper Franconia was a shallow, warm, and tropical sea with dinosaurs roaming around! Since we couldn’t stay the whole day (even though some of us would have loved to) we continued our bus ride.
A scenic view
The next spot was less muddy and more scenic. On top of the Görauer Anger, we could see Kulmbach with the Plassenburg, the Fichtel Mountains and the Franconian Switzerland on one side and lovely pastures, forests, and small villages on the other. A perfect place to explain different types of land uses, Ecosystem Services and how Climate Change might affect the agricultural areas and natural biotopes in our regions. With fantastic pictures of future Upper Franconia as a Mongolian-like savannah in our minds, we enjoyed our lunch break in the sun before we continued our journey.
Bamberg: Natural History Museum and Cathedral
As for every good trip, we were behind schedule, and after our bus drivers overcame a roadblock and kilometres of winding serpentines, we got closer to Bamberg, our destination. We all wished ourselves back into nature when we saw the traffic in the city. After at least another 40 minutes, we arrived at the Natural History Museum in Bamberg. The museum had a dusty, but nonetheless retro-romantic atmosphere with glimmering crystals, fossils that looked like they swam around yesterday and the highlight: the rebuilt bird chamber of some nobleman from the 19th century who collected hundreds of birds around the world. Even though most of us had mixed feelings, facing all these stuffed animals, not few of them threatened with extinction or already extinct and acquired in suspicious trades, it was fascinating to see the diversity and colourfulness of our planet’s (bird) species. In the museum, we could continue to groom our team spirit, since everything was in German and the German students had to translate for the internationals.
After the museum visit, we strolled around the beautiful inner city of Bamberg. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and Professor Köllner provided us with interesting facts and comments about the city’s history and its significance since the Middle Ages. We also visited the Bamberg Cathedral, which houses the mysterious horseman of Bamberg, whose identity remains shrouded in history.
After a full and fun day, we walked back to our bus (after buying smoked beer and ice cream on the way) and travelled back to good old Bayreuth, where we arrived at 6 pm.
It was a great and informative day, and we all want to say thank you to Sylvia Sprödhuber and Prof. Köllner for organizing it and giving us the opportunity to explore the region where we will spend the next years and to get to know each other in a fun way!
After finishing my BA in Anthropology and African History at the University of Bayreuth, I was looking for a way to dive into my interest in nature conservation and ecology again. That's why I chose the Master Global Change Ecology. I am particularly interested in human-environment systems and interactions, as well as meeting new people from near and far, hiking, climbing and upcycling.