River and Conservation Research Group

The Research Group River and Conservation focuses on running waters in alpine and polar regions, their crucial role in alpine landscapes, in the quality of lowland rivers and in the generation of a limiting resource, i.e. water and energy. Within this context we study benthic animal communities as indicators of climate change and coordinate currently three research projects in these cold environments. Besides applying general biological criteria and indices, we developed and defined biological, ecological and behavioral species traits to be used to detect and describe climate and environmental change. Within these projects, we elaborate methodological guidelines for a long-term monitoring on running water ecosystems, especially in high altitudes and latitudes. Recent emphasis in these cold environments is also put on food availability and food web structure, where we apply methods established in earlier works, including C and N stable isotope analyses. Riverine ecosystems in the Alps are highly under stress. In two Alpine Space research projects, therefore, we concentrate on riverine landscapes, environmental conditions and habitat fragmentation. Based on all available data on selected riverine plant and animal species, we identify typical habitats and correlate them with landscapes elements and barriers being effective in the longitudinal, lateral, vertical and temporal dimensions of river systems. A long-standing interest within the group is the ecology of freshwater crayfish, including their distribution, habitat requirements and threats.




Members uf the Group

MSc Students

  • Thomas Berwanger
  • Andreas Erne
  • Dominik B. Gallenberger
  • Maximilian Schrade
  • Fabian Vassanelli

Current team members

Nicholas Medgyesy Dr.Christian Berger Dr. MMag., Solène Marion Jeanne Majoulet MSc, Stefan Schütz PhD

Current Research Projects
  • Aktionsplan Biodiversität Tirol - Modul B (Land Tirol, 2022-2024)
  • The role of fatty acids in changing alpine stream ecosystems (FWF, 2021-2024, PI: Georg H. Niedrist)
  • Langzeitmonitoring von Ökosystemprozessen im Nationalpark Hohe Tauern, Modul 05: Hydrologische, chemische und biologische Signale in Mikro-Catchments (2020-2023 | Nationalpark Hohe Tauern)
  • INNsieme
  • Life Lech - Monitoring Life Maßnahmen, Koordination und Synthese (2017-2021| Land Tirol)
  • Artenschutzprojekt Steinkrebs im Tiroler Außerfern (2016-2021 | Land Tirol)
Recent Projects: Aquatic conservation, nature protection, connectivity and fragmentation
  • Species protection programme: Noble crayfish in the Gurgltal (Land Tirol, 2009 – 2013)
  • Species protection programme: Stone crayfish in Vorarlberg (inatura, 2010 – 2011)
  • Species protection programme: Stone crayfish (Land Tirol, 2009 – 2010)
  • The expansion potential of the invasive signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus DANA, 1852) in Carinthia (Austria) (NWV, Land Kärnten, UIBK, 2009 - 2011)
  • ECONNECT – Improving Ecological Connectivity in the Alpine Region (EU- Interegg Alpine Space, 2008 – 2011)
  • EU-Network CRAYNET - European crayfish as keystone species - linking science, management and economics with sustainable environmental quality (EU; 2002-2006)
  • Interreg III „CRAYFISH-GENEFLOW: Genotypical and phenotypical characterisation of autochthonous crayfish populations in North and South Tyrol; (EU + Land Tirol, Provinz Bozen; 2003 – 2005)
  • Priority Riverine Landscapes of the Alpine Region (WWF; 2002 – 2003)
  • Species Protection Programs on Freshwater crayfish in North and South Tyrol (Land Tirol, Provinz Bozen; 2000 - 2006)
Recent Projects: Ecology of alpine running waters, riverine landscapes, biodiversity, climate change, indicators
  • PROSECCO.ALPS - Proglacial stream ecohydrology and climate change over the Alps (Austrian Academy of Sciences, 2010 – 2013)
  • Freshwater monitoring Nationalpark Hohe Tauern (Nationalpark Hohe Tauern, 2009 – 2012, 2015-2018)
  • SHARE – Sustainable Hydropower in Alpine River Systems (EU – Interegg Alpine Space, 2009 – 2012)
  • Harpellales (Zygomycota) in alpinen Fließgewässern: Vorkommen, Diversität und ihre Interaktion mit ausgewählten Zuckmücken-Larven (Diamesa, Chironomidae) (UIBK, 2010 – 2012)
  • IRESA – Initiative of River Ecology in Sri Lanka (Austrian Academy of Sciences, 2005-2007)
  • Biodiversity of alpine landscapes (Österr. Akademie d. Wissenschaften, 2001-2003)
  • Food resource availability and food web structure in high alpine streams (Österr. Nationalbank, 1999 – 2000)
  • Realisation of a freshwater monitoring in Naturpark Rieserferner-Ahrn, Südtirol, Italy: Inventory, habitat assessments, stream typology and type-specific reference conditions (Provinz Bozen; 1999-2001)
  • Concept for a transboundary freshwater monitoring in Hohe Tauern Nationalpark (Nationalparkrat Nationalpark Hohe Tauern; 1997-2000)
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