Lunz am See, Austria
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Hein T.,WasserCluster Lunz GmbH | Schwarz U.,FLUVIUS Floodplain Ecology and River Basin Management | Habersack H.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | Nichersu I.,Danube Delta National Institute for Research and Development | And 3 more authors.
The Science of the total environment | Year: 2016

Floodplains are key ecosystems of riverine landscapes and provide a multitude of ecosystem services. In most of the large river systems worldwide, a tremendous reduction of floodplain area has occurred in the last 100 years and this loss continues due to pressures such as land use change, river regulation, and dam construction. In the Danube River Basin, the extent of floodplains has been reduced by 68% compared to their pre-regulation area, with the highest losses occurring in the Upper Danube and the lowest in the Danube Delta. In this paper, we illustrate the restoration potential of floodplains along the Danube and its major tributaries. Via two case studies in the Upper and Lower Danube, we demonstrate the effects of restoration measures on the river ecosystem, addressing different drivers, pressures, and opportunities in these regions. The potential area for floodplain restoration based on land use and hydromorphological characteristics amounts to 8102 km(2) for the whole Danube River, of which estimated 75% have a high restoration potential. A comparison of floodplain status and options for restoration in the Upper and Lower Danube shows clear differences in drivers and pressures, but certain common options apply in both sections if the local context of stakeholders and societal needs are considered. New approaches to flood protection using natural water retention measures offer increased opportunities for floodplain restoration, but conflicting societal needs and legal frameworks may restrict implementation. Emerging issues such as climate change and invasive non-native species will need careful consideration in future restoration planning to minimize unintended effects and to increase the resilience of floodplains to these and other pressures. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Hodl I.,University of Vienna | Mari L.,Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne | Mari L.,Polytechnic of Milan | Bertuzzo E.,Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne | And 7 more authors.
Environmental Microbiology | Year: 2014

Ecology, with a traditional focus on plants and animals, seeks to understand the mechanisms underlying structure and dynamics of communities. In microbial ecology, the focus is changing from planktonic communities to attached biofilms that dominate microbial life in numerous systems. Therefore, interest in the structure and function of biofilms is on the rise. Biofilms can form reproducible physical structures (i.e. architecture) at the millimetre-scale, which are central to their functioning. However, the spatial dynamics of the clusters conferring physical structure to biofilms remains often elusive. By experimenting with complex microbial communities forming biofilms in contrasting hydrodynamic microenvironments in stream mesocosms, we show that morphogenesis results in 'ripple-like' and 'star-like' architectures - as they have also been reported from monospecies bacterial biofilms, for instance. To explore the potential contribution of demographic processes to these architectures, we propose a size-structured population model to simulate the dynamics of biofilm growth and cluster size distribution. Our findings establish that basic physical and demographic processes are key forces that shape apparently universal biofilm architectures as they occur in diverse microbial but also in single-species bacterial biofilms. © 2013 The Authors. Environmental Microbiology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Society for Applied Microbiology.


Schonbrunner I.M.,WasserCluster Lunz GmbH | Schonbrunner I.M.,University of Vienna | Preiner S.,WasserCluster Lunz GmbH | Preiner S.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | And 2 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2012

One of the consequences of human impacts on floodplains is a change in sedimentation leading to enhanced floodplain aggradation. Thus, accumulated sediments rich in nutrients might interfere with floodplain restoration. In this study we investigated the phosphorus release behavior of sediments from shallow backwaters of an isolated floodplain of the Danube River situated east of the city of Vienna with the aim to understand the effects of changes in dry/wet cycles on established floodplain sediments. In the light of restoration plans aiming at increased surface water exchange with the river main channel, the response of sediments to frequent alternations between desiccation and inundation periods is a key issue as changes of sediment properties are expected to affect phosphorus release. In order to determine the effect of changing hydrological conditions on internal phosphorus loading, we exposed sediments to different dry/wet treatments in a laboratory experiment. Total phosphorus (TP) release from sediments into the water column increased with increasing duration of dry periods prior to re-wetting. Partial correlation analysis showed significant positive correlations between δTP and δNH4+ as well as between δTP and δFe3+ concentrations (δ refers to the difference between the final and initial concentration during the wetting period), indicating that enhanced mineralization rates leading to a concomitant release of NH4+ and TP and the reduction of iron hydroxides leading to a concomitant release of Fe3+ and TP are the mechanisms responsible for the rise in TP. Repeated drying and wetting resulted in elevated phosphorus release. This effect was more pronounced when drying periods led to an 80% reduction in water content, indicating that the degree of drying is a major determinant controlling phosphorus release upon re-wetting. The reconnection of isolated floodplains will favor fluctuating hydrologic conditions and is therefore expected to initially lead to high rates of phosphorus release from sediments. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Hall E.K.,University of Vienna | Hall E.K.,Colorado State University | Besemer K.,University of Vienna | Kohl L.,University of Vienna | And 6 more authors.
Frontiers in Microbiology | Year: 2012

Fluvial ecosystems process large quantities of dissolved organic matter as it moves from the headwater streams to the sea. In particular, hyporheic sediments are centers of high biogeochemical reactivity due to their elevated residence time and high microbial biomass and activity. However, the interaction between organic matter and microbial dynamics in the hyporheic zone remains poorly understood. We evaluated how variance in resource chemistry affected the microbial community and its associated activity in experimentally grown hyporheic biofilms. To do this we fed beech leaf leachates that differed in chemical composition to a series of bioreactors filled with sediment from a sub-alpine stream. Differences in resource chemistry resulted in differences in diversity and phylogenetic origin of microbial proteins, enzyme activity, and microbial biomass stoichiometry. Specifically, increased lignin, phenolics, and manganese in a single leachate resulted in increased phe-noloxidase and peroxidase activity, elevated microbial biomass carbon:nitrogen ratio, and a greater proportion of proteins of Betaproteobacteria origin. We used this model system to attempt to link microbial form (community composition and metaproteome) with function (enzyme activity) in order to better understand the mechanisms that link resource heterogeneity to ecosystem function in stream ecosystems. © 2012 Hall, Besemer, Kohl, Preiler, Riedel, Schneider, Wanek and Battin.


Fasching C.,University of Vienna | Ulseth A.J.,Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne | Schelker J.,University of Vienna | Schelker J.,WasserCluster Lunz GmbH | And 2 more authors.
Limnology and Oceanography | Year: 2016

Streams and rivers transport dissolved organic matter (DOM) from the terrestrial environment to downstream ecosystems. In light of climate and global change it is crucial to understand the temporal dynamics of DOM concentration and composition, and its export fluxes from headwaters to larger downstream ecosystems. We monitored DOM concentration and composition based on a diurnal sampling design for 3 years in an Alpine headwater stream. We found hydrologic variability to control DOM composition and the coupling of DOM dynamics in the streamwater and the hyporheic zone. High-flow events increased DOM inputs from terrestrial sources (as indicated by the contributions of humic- and fulvic-like fluorescence), while summer baseflow enhanced the autochthonous imprint of DOM. Diurnal and seasonal patterns of DOM composition were likely induced by biological processes linked to temperature and photosynthetic active radiation (PAR). Floods frequently interrupted diurnal and seasonal patterns of DOM, which led to a decoupling of streamwater and hyporheic water DOM composition and delivery of aromatic and humic-like DOM to the streamwater. Accordingly, DOM export fluxes were largely of terrigenous origin as indicated by optical properties. Our study highlights the relevance of hydrologic and seasonal dynamics for the origin, composition and fluxes of DOM in an Alpine headwater stream. © 2016 Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography.


Muellegger C.,University of Vienna | Weilhartner A.,University of Vienna | Weilhartner A.,WasserCluster Lunz GmbH | Battin T.J.,University of Vienna | And 2 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2013

Groundwater-fed gravel pit lakes (GPLs) affect the biological, organic, and inorganic parameters of inflowing groundwater through combined effects of bank filtration at the inflow, reactions within the lake, and bank filtration at the outflow. GPLs result from wet dredging for sand and gravel and may conflict with groundwater protection programs by removing the protective soil cover and exposing groundwater to the atmosphere. We have investigated the impact on groundwater of five GPLs with different sizes, ages, and mean residence times, and all having low post-excavation anthropogenic usage. The results revealed highly active biological systems within the lake water, in which primary producers significantly reduced inflowing nitrate concentrations. Decalcification also occurred in lake water, reducing water hardness, which could be beneficial for waterworks in hard groundwater areas. Downgradient groundwater nitrate and calcium concentrations were found to be stable, with only minor seasonal variations. Biological degradation of organic material and organic micropollutants was also observed in the GPLs. For young GPLs adequate sediment deposits may not yet have formed and degradation processes at the outflow may consequently not yet be well established. However, our results showed that within 5 years from the cessation of excavation a protective sediment layer is established that is sufficient to prevent the export of dissolved organic carbon to downgradient groundwater. GPLs can improve groundwater quality in anthropogenically (e.g., pesticides and nitrate) or geologically (e.g., hardness) challenging situations. However, post-excavation usage of GPLs is often dominated by human activities such as recreational activities, water sports, or fish farming. These activities will affect lake and groundwater quality and the risks involved are difficult to predict and monitor and can lead to overall negative impacts on groundwater quality. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Weilhartner A.,University of Vienna | Weilhartner A.,WasserCluster Lunz GmbH | Muellegger C.,University of Vienna | Kainz M.,WasserCluster Lunz GmbH | And 5 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2012

Gravel excavation often bears conflicts with the use of drinking water as under-water-table mining can directly impact groundwater quality downstream of the open gravel pit lake due to exposure of the groundwater aquifer to the atmosphere and to human activities. To assess this potential impact of GPLs on groundwater, we assessed the mass balance for nitrate (NO3) and phosphate (PO4) and whole-ecosystem metabolism of five post-excavation GPLs in Austria. GPLs differed in both age and residence time of lake water. We found that GPLs significantly reduced the concentration of NO3 and PO4 as groundwater passes through the lake ecosystem, which in most cases acted as a net sink for these nutrients. Groundwater-derived nutrients enhanced both epilithic and pelagic net primary production in the GPLs, which ultimately leads to biomass accrual. Our data also suggest that this biomass accrual may induce, at least in part, clogging of the GPLs and their successive hydrodynamic isolation from the adjacent groundwater. Despite continuous biomass build-up and elevated concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in the lake water compared to the inflowing groundwater, DOC export into the outflowing groundwater remained low. Our data suggest that GPLs could contribute to groundwater amelioration where agricultural land use increases nutrient concentrations in the groundwater given a proper management of these man-made ecosystems. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Besemer K.,University of Vienna | Besemer K.,WasserCluster Lunz GmbH | Singer G.,University of Vienna | Singer G.,WasserCluster Lunz GmbH | And 5 more authors.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2013

Streams and rivers form conspicuous networks on the Earth and are among nature's most effective integrators. Their dendritic structure reaches into the terrestrial landscape and accumulates water and sediment en route from abundant headwater streams to a single river mouth. The prevailing view over the last decades has been that biological diversity also accumulates downstream. Here, we show that this pattern does not hold for fluvial biofilms, which are the dominant mode of microbial life in streams and rivers and which fulfil critical ecosystem functions therein. Using 454 pyrosequencing on benthic biofilms from 114 streams, we found that microbial diversity decreased from headwaters downstream and especially at confluences. We suggest that the local environment and biotic interactions may modify the influence of metacommunity connectivity on local biofilm biodiversity throughout the network. In addition, there was a high degree of variability in species composition among headwater streamsthat could not be explained by geographical distance between catchments. This suggests that the dendritic nature of fluvial networks constrains the distributional patterns of microbial diversity similar to that of animals. Our observations highlight the contributions that headwaters make in the maintenance of microbial biodiversity in fluvial networks. © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society.


Besemer K.,University of Vienna | Besemer K.,WasserCluster Lunz GmbH | Besemer K.,University of Lausanne
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society | Year: 2013

Streams and rivers form conspicuous networks on the Earth and are among nature's most effective integrators. Their dendritic structure reaches into the terrestrial landscape and accumulates water and sediment en route from abundant headwater streams to a single river mouth. The prevailing view over the last decades has been that biological diversity also accumulates downstream. Here, we show that this pattern does not hold for fluvial biofilms, which are the dominant mode of microbial life in streams and rivers and which fulfil critical ecosystem functions therein. Using 454 pyrosequencing on benthic biofilms from 114 streams, we found that microbial diversity decreased from headwaters downstream and especially at confluences. We suggest that the local environment and biotic interactions may modify the influence of metacommunity connectivity on local biofilm biodiversity throughout the network. In addition, there was a high degree of variability in species composition among headwater streams that could not be explained by geographical distance between catchments. This suggests that the dendritic nature of fluvial networks constrains the distributional patterns of microbial diversity similar to that of animals. Our observations highlight the contributions that headwaters make in the maintenance of microbial biodiversity in fluvial networks.


PubMed | WasserCluster Lunz GmbH
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Environmental science and pollution research international | Year: 2013

Intensive agricultural land use imposes multiple pressures on streams. More specifically, the loading of streams with nutrient-enriched soil from surrounding crop fields may deteriorate the sediment quality. The current study aimed to find out whether stream restoration may be an effective tool to improve the sediment quality of agricultural headwater streams. We compared nine stream reaches representing different morphological types (forested meandering reaches vs. deforested channelized reaches) regarding sediment structure, sedimentary nutrient and organic matter concentrations, and benthic microbial respiration. Main differences among reach types were found in grain sizes. Meandering reaches featured larger mean grain sizes (50-70 m) and a thicker oxygenated surface layer (8 cm) than channelized reaches (40 m, 5 cm). Total phosphorous amounted for up to 1,500 gg(-1) DW at retentive channelized reaches and 850-1,050 gg(-1) DW at the others. While N-NH(4) accumulated in the sediments (60-180 gg(-1) DW), N-NO(3) concentrations were generally low (2-5 gg(-1) DW). Benthic respiration was high at all sites (10-20 g O(2) m(-2)day(-1)). Our study shows that both hydromorphology and bank vegetation may influence the sediment quality of agricultural streams, though effects are often small and spatially restricted. To increase the efficiency of stream restoration in agricultural landscapes, nutrient and sediment delivery to stream channels need to be minimized by mitigating soil erosion in the catchment.

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