The temperate zone

Earth’s major ecosystems: Central Europe

The temperate zone is what geographers call the areas from the Arctic Circle to the Tropic of Cancer and from the Tropic of Capricorn to the Antarctic Circle. However, it is not all as temperate as it may sound. Stuttgart, for instance, shares about the same latitude as the Kazakh steppes and the Mongolian deserts with their extreme seasonal changes in temperature.

Only where the moderating influence of the sea is present is the climate indeed temperate. That is, the climate is neither hot nor cold, nor arid nor extremely wet.

In this hall we present only the region where the temperate zone lives up to its name, with an emphasis on the deciduous forests of Central Europe.

Standing under the central oak tree, you will see:

  • Central Europe in its original state: a huge diorama will take you several thousand years back in time to the Middle Stone Age, when the European bison, bear, wolf and lynx were still part of the local fauna. A nomadic Stone Age hunter helps illustrate this leap in time. He is accompanied by a wolf puppy – the beginning of a wonderful friendship.
  • Early agriculture: a woman of the Linear Pottery culture, the first local sedentary population, tills the first Stone Age acre. Ancestral grains, other crops and many wild herbs were planted all together. For a long time, these artificially created open landscapes actually increased biodiversity. In contrast, our tidy, intensively fertilized fields cleared for cultivation by machines are transformed into biodiversity deserts.
  • The soil, a recycling factory: the magnified section of a forest floor illustrates the multitude of organisms that participate in the degradation and processing of organic waste, for example foliage, faeces, and carcasses. Bioavailable minerals and fertile humus are the end products of this chain, free to enter another nutrient cycle.
  • Mountains disrupt the distribution of vegetation zones and form climatic islands. Above the treeline of the Alps, climatic conditions are similar to the far North. Ibex, marmot, ptarmigan, and the Alpine salamander inhabit this environment.
  • The dioramas displaying the Alps and the primeval forest of Central Europe are supplemented by interactive media including many visual, audio, and text materials.

Brown bear

Tawny Owl

Stag beetle

Stone age hunter

Common woodlouse

Alpine ibex

Rock Ptarmigan

Rock Partrige

The Alps