The sound of rivers - a trigger for riverine biota?

The Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Management (IHG) has been awarded one of 24 grants in the frame of the FWF's 1000 IDEAS PROGRAMME for the research project "The sound of rivers - a trigger for riverine biota?" where 400 particularly innovative research ideas beyond current scientific understanding were evaluated.

Organisms have developed a variety of methods to gather, process and respond to information about their environment. In addition to visual, tactile and olfactory information, auditory stimuli are an essential source of information. In terrestrial and marine ecosystems, their importance is well known. For riverine ecosystems, however, there is almost no information available on whether acoustic signals are perceived by aquatic and semi-aquatic organisms, and if so, which significance they have. A refined understanding of these processes is essential to answer basic ecological but also specific applied questions related to environmental and nature conservation issues. 
Within the next two years, the research project "The sound of rivers - a trigger for riverine biota?" will investigate to which extent acoustic signals in rivers are used as a source of information on the physical environment. The focus will be on specific sound characteristics of natural (floods) and anthropogenically induced water level changes (hydropeaking phenomena) as well as their impact on the behaviour of invertebrates and fish. Within the frame of this so-called “high-risk research project”, the role of hydro-acoustics in orientation of aquatic organisms in a dynamic habitat will be assessed generating important information on fundamental questions of aquatic ecology.