Aquatic Biodiversity across temporal and spatial scales

Group leader: Robert Ptacnik

Plankton is the sum of the microscopic small organisms which appear in lakes as well as in the ocean. These micororganisms are in the focus of the working group AQUASCALE. Questions of special interest are: Which diversity regulates plankton? And how does diversity influence the funcitionality and health of ecosystems? Moreover AQUASCALE researches plankton diversity in different geographical regions on the basis of data analysis.

Research topics:

• Experimental plankton ecology
• Biodiversity research
• Advanced methods in community analysis

Link: AquaScale Lab


Biogeochemistry and Ecohydrology of Riverine Landscapes

Group leader: Gabriele Weigelhofer

Riverine systems are exposed to multiple natural and anthropogenic stressors, such as changes in the hydrological regime, river regulations, nutrients and organic matter inputs from the catchment, and climate change. BIGER studies the interactive effects of these stressors on the biogeochemical processes at the water-sediment-interface of streams, rivers, and floodplains as well as on their biodiversity. Our research focus lies on the resilience and resistance of these aquatic ecosystems to both, human impacts and restoration measures, and on the development of perspectives for a sustainable use and, thus, an improved ecological state of these systems.

Research topics:

• Biogeochemistry of running waters
• Ecohydrology
• Sustainable management of riverine systems
• Resilience and resistance to multiple stressors
• Biodiversity


Stream Ecology and Catchment Biogeochemistry

Group leader: Jakob Schelker

Small streams connect terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. They are subject to dynamic inputs of water, solutes and organisms from their catchments. The EcoCatch Group investigates how small streams receive, transform and pass-on these inputs and how these processes may be modified by changing environmental conditions, such as, for example warmer temperatures. This is relevant because small streams predetermine water quality in downstream rivers, lakes and groundwater aquifers, but also because they play a vital role in the global carbon cycle.

Research topics:

• Biogeochemistry
• Stream ecology
• microbial ecology and biodiversity of streams
• cycling of carbon, nutrients and metals


Aquatic Lipid Research and Ecotoxicology

Group leader: Martin Kainz

Aquatic organisms acquire dietary nutrients, but also toxic substances. LIPTOX investigates the origin and composition of nutrition in different waters. Questions of special interest are, which diet delivers the most nutritious and physiologically required compounds, in particular lipids and their fatty acids, and which diets convey the least toxic substances. That is not only important for aquatic organisms, but also for humans as ultimate consumers at the top of the food chain.

Research topics:

• aquatic food chains
• trophic lipid research and biomarkers
• aquatic ecotoxicology