Research Unit Alpine Freshwater Ecology

We study alpine freshwater ecosystems in the face of global change"

The Alpine freshwater ecology research unit includes three research groups studying subalpine and alpine lakes and the full continuum of running waters from glacier streams to larger rivers. We sample microbes and invertebrates in Alpine lakes and reconstruct lacustrine environmental conditions during the Holocene. We study how microbes in glaciers, lakes and rivers contribute to biogeochemical cycling, as well as we investigate biodiversity and organic matter dynamics in river networks. In all this, we understand freshwater ecosystems as links between the terrestrial catchment and the atmosphere, and as disproportionately important for biodiversity in need of conservation.

Owing to excellent research facilities, such as fully equipped laboratories for aquatic biogeochemistry, microbiology and organisms’ taxonomy, a high-elevation research station located at the shore of  Gossenköllesee, and an Alpine University research centre in Obergurgl, we offer unique opportunities for students and researchers to study Alpine aquatic ecosystems and the effects of global change.

In addition to the two LTSER sites in the Tyrolean Alps (Piburgersee and Gossenköllesee), our research groups are active in different parts of the world. Our research activities are well integrated into diverse international research projects with links to more than 20 countries. Our common epicenter of activity, however, are Alpine freshwater and cryospheric ecosystems – we are also  members of the largest research focus of the University of Innsbruck, Alpine Space - Man & Environment.

Our mission is to conduct leading research on basic and applied freshwater ecology at the national and international level and to provide knowledge to students, managers, and the general public including outreach activities with children.

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