- The exploration of Asia by scientists from the University of Halle and the Francke Foundations (founded in 1698) has a long tradition, dating back to the 18th century when early researchers reached the northern borders of Mongolia. In 1962 and 1964, the first large biological expeditions were organized by the Academies of Sciences of the GDR and Mongolia, and zoologists from the Universities of Halle, Berlin and Ulan-Bator were part of the expedition teams. These expeditions aimed at the exploration of southern and western Mongolia, and laid the foundation for extremely valuable scientific collections yielding innumerable herbarium specimens and a wide range of zoological material, which are still kept in Germany and especially Mongolia. In 1967, the Universities of Halle and Ulan-Bator signed a contract on cooperation in research programmes, education and training of academic youth. Since then, dozens of Mongolian students and scientists were educated and graduated at the University of Halle; today a number of German-speaking staff at the University in Ulan-Bator demonstrates the importance and efficiency of these efforts. The extensive scientific cooperation resulted in some 250 scientific papers, in the joint editing of the journal ’Exploration of biological resources of Mongolia’, and in the organization of international conferences in 1983 and 1992 in Halle, and 2004 in Ulan-Bator. Up to the present, research is continued and vividly discussed, and much of the scientific output is of fundamental importance for the understanding of Central Asian ecosystems and international nature conservation. A central topic of the hard field work during the last 40 years was research on the ecology of endangered species, and their conservation and management in Central Asian ecosystems and nature reserves. Examples include the Central Asian beaver Castor fiber birulai, the Asiatic Wild Ass Equus hemionus hemionus, plus various raptor and jerboa species. These studies were augmented by complex programmes in biodiversity research. Special focus was also put on the vertical zonation of vegetation, flora and fauna in the high mountains of western and southern Mongolia. Additionally, the effects of the large-scale conversion of near-natural steppes to agricultural land were investigated in western Mongolia with a focus on plant associations and animal communities. During all expeditions the transfer of methods and the qualification of students and young scientists was a central issue. The experimental rearing of economically relevant small mammals such as Alticola species and the endemic Steppe Vole Microtus brandti formed the basis for a wide range of studies which resulted in several diploma theses and dissertations. In the last years, continued practical training on complex issues of ecosystem ecology and joint supervision of German and Mongolian students in diploma and Ph.D. projects contributed much to the ongoing success of the cooperation, and also to the individual development of the students’ personality. Moreover, a very effective network of the Universities of Marburg and Ulan-Bator lead to the establishment of a research station in the Gurvan Sajkhan National Park, where also botanists from Halle University found ample opportunities for scientific work. After 40 years of close cooperation, the scientific herbarium and the zoological collections of the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg are among the largest in Western Europe 1’Ergebnisse der Mongolisch-Deutschen Biologischen Expeditionen seit 1962’, Nr. 242. 11 Stubbe, Stubbe, Samjaa, and Wesche in Erforschung biologischer Ressourcen der Mongolei (2005) 5. Copyright 2005, Martin-Luther-Universität. Used by permission.
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