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Lunz am See, Austria

Habersack H.,Christian Doppler Laboratory | Hein T.,WasserCluster Lunz GmbH | Hein T.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | Stanica A.,National Institute of Marine Geology and Geo ecology | And 5 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment

In the Danube River Basin multiple pressures affect the river systemas a consequence of river engineeringworks, altering both the river hydrodynamics and morphodynamics. The main objective of this paper is to identify the effects of hydropower development, flood protection and engineering works for navigation on the Danube and to examine specific impacts of these developments on sediment transport and river morphology. Whereas impoundments are characterised by deposition and an excess of sediment with remobilisation of fine sediments during severe floods, the remaining five free flowing sections of the Danube are experiencing river bed erosion of the order of several centimetres per year. Besides the effect of interruption of the sediment continuum, river bed degradation is caused by an increase in the sediment transport capacity following an increase in slope, a reduction of river bedwidth due to canalisation, prohibition of bank erosion by riprap or regressive erosion following base level lowering by flood protection measures and sediment dredging. As a consequence, the groundwater table is lowered, side-arms are disconnected, instream structures are lost and habitat quality deteriorates affecting the ecological status of valuable floodplains. The lack of sediments, together with cutting offmeanders, leads also to erosion of the bed ofmain armsin the Danube Delta and coastal erosion. This paper details the causes and effects of river engineering measures and hydromorphological changes for the Danube. It highlights the importance of adopting a basin-wide holistic approach to river management and demonstrates that past management in the basin has been characterised by a lack of integration. To-date insufficient attention has been paid to the wide-ranging impacts of river engineering works throughout the basin: from the basin headwaters to the Danube Delta, on the Black Sea coast. This highlights the importance of new initiatives that seek to advance knowledge exchange and knowledge transferwithin the basin to reach the goal of integrated basin management. © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. Source

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

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. Source

Hein T.,WasserCluster Lunz GmbH | Hein T.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | Schwarz U.,FLUVIUS Floodplain Ecology and River Basin Management | Habersack H.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | And 6 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment

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 100years 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 km2 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. © 2015 Elsevier B.V. Source

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

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. Source

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

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. Source

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