Although freshwaters cover less than one per cent of the earth’s surface, they are some of the most species-rich habitats on our planet – so far at any rate. After all, rivers and lakes are experiencing a rapid decline in biological diversity. And yet it is still unclear what this loss means for our well-being in the long term. One important objective of our research is therefore to identify measures that enable us to protect the biodiversity of our freshwaters as effectively as possible. We investigate the causes, draw up forecasts relating to changes, and pool our expertise in biodiversity research and in knowledge-based environmental protection. Collaborating with international partners, we also collect global data on biodiversity in freshwaters, creating a unique foundation to ensure their protection.

Selected publications

October 2023
Ecology letters. - 26(2023)12, 2066-2076

Long-term data reveal contrasting impacts of native versus invasive nest predators in Iceland

Jón Einar Jónsson; Fiona S. Rickowski; Florian Ruland; Árni Ásgeirsson; Jonathan M. Jeschke

The authors used unusual Citizen Science data from several decades to show that the American mink has decimated the native eider duck in the Brokey archipelago by about 60 %. In another Icelandic landscape, the return of the native Arctic fox had no discernible impact on the eider population - presumably due to the common evolutionary history in which the eiders have developed defence strategies.

October 2023
Environmental Sciences Europe. - 35(2023), Art. 78

Potential for high toxicity of polystyrene nanoplastics to the European Daphnia longispina

Anderson Abel de Souza Machado; Nesar Ghadernezhad; Justyna Wolinska

Until now, the toxicity assessment of microplastics in the environment relied on the model organism Daphnia magna for evaluating potential hazards to aquatic invertebrates. However, other Daphnia species are primarily found in Northern Hemisphere lakes, most notably Daphnia longispina. The current study reveals that Daphnia longispina can be more sensitive to microplastics than Daphnia magna. 

October 2023
Global Change Biology. - 29(2023)17, 4924-4938

Patterns and drivers of climatic niche dynamics during biological invasions of island-endemic amphibians, reptiles, and birds

Adrián García-Rodríguez; Bernd Lenzner; Clara Marino; Chunlong Liu; Julián A. Velasco; Céline Bellard; Jonathan M. Jeschke; Hanno Seebens; Franz Essl

Looking at insular amphibians, reptiles and birds across the world, the authors investigated mismatches between native and non-native climatic niches and how these mismatches can be explained. The results show that climatic mismatches are common for non-native birds and reptiles, but rare for amphibians, and that several factors are significantly related to these mismatches.

September 2023
Nature. - 620(2023), S. 582–588

The recovery of European freshwater biodiversity has come to a halt

Peter Haase; Diana E. Bowler; Nathan J. Baker; Núria Bonada; Sami Domisch; Jaime R. Garcia Marquez; Jani Heino; Daniel Hering; Sonja C. Jähnig; Astrid Schmidt-Kloiber; Rachel Stubbington; Florian Altermatt; Mario Álvarez-Cabria; Giuseppe Amatulli; David G. Angeler; Gaït Archambaud-Suard; Iñaki Arrate Jorrín; Thomas Aspin; Iker Azpiroz; Iñaki Bañares; José Barquín Ortiz; Christian L. Bodin; Luca Bonacina; Roberta Bottarin; Miguel Cañedo-Argüelles; Zoltán Csabai; Thibault Datry; Elvira de Eyto; Alain Dohet; Gerald Dörflinger; Emma Drohan; Knut A. Eikland; Judy England; Tor E. Eriksen; Vesela Evtimova; Maria J. Feio; Martial Ferréol; Mathieu Floury; Maxence Forcellini; Marie Anne Eurie Forio; Riccardo Fornaroli; Nikolai Friberg; Jean-François Fruget; Galia Georgieva; Peter Goethals; Manuel A. S. Graça; Wolfram Graf; Andy House; Kaisa-Leena Huttunen; Thomas C. Jensen; Richard K. Johnson; J. Iwan Jones; Jens Kiesel; Lenka Kuglerová; Aitor Larrañaga; Patrick Leitner; Lionel L’Hoste; Marie-Helène Lizée; Armin W. Lorenz; Anthony Maire; Jesús Alberto Manzanos Arnaiz; Brendan G. McKie; Andrés Millán; Don Monteith; Timo Muotka; John F. Murphy; Davis Ozolins; Riku Paavola; Petr Paril; Francisco J. Peñas; Francesca Pilotto; Marek Polášek; Jes Jessen Rasmussen; Manu Rubio; David Sánchez-Fernández; Leonard Sandin; Ralf B. Schäfer; Alberto Scotti; Longzhu Q. Shen; Agnija Skuja; Stefan Stoll; Michal Straka; Henn Timm; Violeta G. Tyufekchieva; Iakovos Tziortzis; Yordan Uzunov; Gea H. van der Lee; Rudy Vannevel; Emilia Varadinova; Gábor Várbíró; Gaute Velle; Piet F. M. Verdonschot; Ralf C. M. Verdonschot; Yanka Vidinova; Peter Wiberg-Larsen; Ellen A. R. Welti

The comprehensive study shows that between 1968 and 2010, biodiversity in river systems in 22 European countries initially recovered due to improved water quality. Since 2010, however, biodiversity has stagnated; many river systems have not fully recovered. The researchers therefore urgently recommend additional measures to further promote the recovery of biodiversity in inland waters. 

August 2023
Applied and Environmental Microbiology. - 89(2023)7, e00539-23

Phytoplankton Producer Species and Transformation of Released Compounds over Time Define Bacterial Communities following Phytoplankton Dissolved Organic Matter Pulses

Falk Eigemann; Eyal Rahav; Hans-Peter Grossart; Dikla Aharonovich; Maren Voss; Daniel Sher

Bacterial responses to phytoplankton exudates (DOMp) may be caused by different DOMp compositions. Thereby, the bacterial community leads to a succession of DOMp from highly to less bioavailable, reflected by the temporal presence of specific bacterial phylotypes. The exploitation of species-specific highly bioavailable compounds, results in a more similar remaining DOMp.


Related Projects

Contact person
Martin Pusch
Christian Wolter
Sonja Jähnig
Thomas Mehner
(Dept. 1) Ecohydrology and Biogeochemistry
(Dept. 2) Community and Ecosystem Ecology
(Dept. 3) Plankton and Microbial Ecology
(Dept. 4) Fish Biology, Fisheries and Aquaculture
(Dept. 5) Evolutionary and Integrative Ecology

Related Downloads

Outlines | IGB Dossier: Small standing water bodies as biodiversity hotspots – particularly valuable, but highly endangered

Small standing waters are overlooked and underestimated because of their small size – yet they account for more than 30 percent of the world's inland water bodies and are of great ecological and social importance. In order to raise awareness of this problem and to point out options for action for policymakers, authorities and the civil society, IGB has published an IGB Dossier on this important type of water body. 

Experts at IGB

Sami Domisch

Research Group Leader
Research group
Global Freshwater Biodiversity, Biogeography and Conservation

Lynn Govaert

Research Group Leader
Research group
Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics

Sonja Jähnig

Head of Department
Research group
Aquatic Ecogeography

Matthias Stöck

Research Group Leader
Research group
Genetics and Evolution of Fish (and other Vertebrates)

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