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Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2019-08-01 - 2019-12-31

Against the background of the planned elaboration of the Austrian Renewable Development Act 2020 on the one hand and the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive on the other hand, in this short study all rivers of Austria with a catchment area > 10 km² are analyzed in terms of their (ecological) integrity, their protection status, and their protection potential. The analysis of ecological integrity /relevance is based on data from the National Water Management Plan, as well as on designations in the Austrian Floodplain Inventory. It will be investigated, which river stretches are of particular ecological relevance with regard to their ecological and hydromorphological status and the condition of their floodplain ecosystems and to what extent these stretches can be excluded from further expansion plans. Depending on the given protection status and/or the specifications of existing regional programs, the protection need as well as the protection potential for selected species is further determined.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2019-05-01 - 2021-07-31

Since its first application to macroorganisms in 2013, environmental DNA (eDNA) has increasingly appeared to be a promising non-invasive method for improving aquatic biodiversity monitoring. eDNA refers to DNA obtained from environmental samples without the prior isolation of any target organism. In the case of water samples, eDNA contains both intra-organism DNA (e.g., small planktonic organisms) and extra-organism DNA (e.g., from fish) which can be cellular or extracellular and degraded. With the emergence of next-generation sequencing (NGS) platforms and the use of universal PCR primers (eDNA metabarcoding), large collections of taxa can be identified via a single experiment. This not only offers the possibility to detect rare or evasive species but also allows the rapid biodiversity assessment of large communities and the reconstruction of ecological and evolutionary processes from easy-to-collect samples. Recently, a study demonstrated the capacity of eDNA metabarcoding to describe longitudinal fish assemblage patterns in a large river (Rhône River), and metabarcoding appears to be a reliable, cost-effective method for future monitoring. Our aim is to apply this methodology to the Danube basin on the Joint Danube Survey 4 with the support of ICPDR and in collaboration with the EU Cost Action DNAqua-net. In order to extend the study to a larger number of sites, a consortium has been set up under the impetus of the Institute for Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Management (IHG, BOKU): ICPDR, DNAqua-net, Interreg Project MEASURES, SPYGEN Laboratory - France, VigiLIFE NGO - France, ÖK-IAD and BMNT.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2019-05-01 - 2022-04-30

The project is designed to identify the consequences of glacier retreat on land cover and downstream fluvial morphology over the long term. It is based on orthophotos from the last 70 years, but extends the temporal scale back to around 1800 CE. The GIS-based reconstruction of the historical land cover changes and of the fluvial system at different points in time within the last approx. 200 years will be conducted in analogy to the “regressive-iterative reconstruction method” developed by Hohensinner et al. (2013). In the present project, this methodological approach will be evaluated for the LTER study site at the glacier Jamtalferner and the downstream, approx. 12 km long River Jambach in Tyrol. For each point in time the areal extents of the glacier, (proglacial) channel network, debris depositions, natural vegetation cover and human modified land cover will be localized and quantified. The focus is on the configuration of the fluvial system of the Jambach – i.e., whether significant changes in morphological river type (straight, braiding, sinuous, oscillating, meandering, etc.), channel width, length and sinuosity of the river’s course can be detected. Alterations of the historical channel patterns reveal changes in the external framework conditions, i.e., an increase or reduction in debris/sediment supply or bankfull discharge. Moreover, the simultaneously ascertained changes in land cover will also allow for the identification of the potential causes of the historical fluvial modifications.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations