Welcome to Prof. Gabriel Singer

On 1st of December Dr. Gabriel Singer joined the Institute of Ecology as a new Professor of Aquatic Biogeochemistry. Gabriel will strengthen the Institute´s limnological expertise with a research agenda focused on streams and rivers.
team work
Bild: Stream ecology is team work. Who might be the new professor here? (Credit: Matthew Talluto)

He moves to the University of Innsbruck from the Leibniz-Institute of Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) in Berlin, Germany, where he worked as a senior scientist and research group leader over the past 6 years. Before moving to Germany he learned the rules of the limnological trade at the University of Vienna, where he did his Masters and PhD theses with Prof. Johann Waringer and Prof. Tom Battin.  

Gabriel and his team´s research is dedicated to running waters at ecosystem- to landscape-scale. The focus rests on ecosystem functions in streams and rivers, eventually including lakes embedded in the flowing water continuum. Work comprises heterotroph as well as autotroph processes driven by bacteria, algae as well as invertebrates. A key element is carbon in dissolved, particulate and gaseous form – the respective functions then include ecosystem-scale metabolism, gas evasion as well as secondary production. High-resolution chemical characterization of dissolved organic matter using mass-spectrometric techniques is a key expertise that will be further developed in Innsbruck, also by significant investment into analytical infrastructure. Together with molecular techniques to characterize aquatic biodiversity and its functional capacities, state-of-the-art high-resolution assessments of organic matter are key to understand “fluvial meta-ecosystem functioning”, i.e. functioning of entire river networks.

Current research happens in river networks in Austria, Kenya and Albania, but also includes laboratory-based microcosm experimentation. After research in the lowlands of Northern Germany, Gabriel is happy to shift his research back to the mountains and eventually into high-alpine environments. He also hopes to be able to build strong linkages to terrestrial ecology in order to integratively understand the role of rivers in their terrestrial matrix. In his opinion streams and rivers are among the most threatened and charismatic ecosystems on Earth, a better understanding of their biodiversity and functioning can contribute to increased appreciation, wiser use and urgently needed conservation. To reach these goals, Gabriel firmly believes that a future ecologist´s study curriculum must include opportunities to personally experience natural ecosystems besides intellectually understanding them.



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