Situated in the alpine region of the Tyrolean Stubaier Alpen, Gossenköllesee is a typical high-mountain lake at an altitude of about 2,400 meters above sea level. The lake surface is 1,6 hectares. The whole biosphere reserve covers not more than the lake and its small catchment area.

Designation Date: 1977
Surface Area: 85 hectares, smallest biosphere reserve worldwide. Core Zone: no distinction between zones due to small size
Administrative Division:  Governement of Tirol is the official managing authority. However, all research activities at the lake and within the catchment area are coordinated by the Institue of Ecology. 

Human Activities

There are no settlements or locals living in the biosphere reserve except researchers who are periodically based at the research station. Within the frame of the BR no educational activities are existing. However, educational courses and excursions are offered by the Institute of Ecology for schools, universities and the public (e.g. Alpine Club, Sparkling Science).

The biosphere reserve is dedicated exclusively to environmental monitoring in alpine extreme habitats carried out by the University of Innsbruck with international collaboration. The main focus in this biosphere reserve is clearly “Research, Education, Monitoring and Training”.

Ecological Characteristics

The lake supports tuncated food webs including micro organisms, algae, zooplankton and fish. In the surrounding terrestrial areas, lichens, siliceous screes and siliceous alpine grasslands are predominating. Gossenköllesee is one of the highest situated lakes with brown trout (Salmo trutta F. fario) which was introduced in the 15th or 16th century by the Emperor Maximilian.

Due to the long lasting isolation of the lake, this fish population is of special research interest. Sediment analysis from Gossenköllesee can track back environmental changes eight hundred years.

The limnological station of the University of Innsbruck is located at the lakeshore of Gossenköllesee and hosts several international research activities including EU pojects (MOLAR, GLOCHAMORE, GLORIA, EMERGE) focussing on investigations of high mountain lakes as indicators for environmental change.

Protection Classifications

According to the nature protection law of the Tyrol, the lake itself and the area around its lakeshores within a zone of 500 meters are protected with applicants for plans and projects having to ask for a permit.

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                                                                                    Last update: January 2014

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