Sonja Jähnig

+49 (0) 30 6392 4085

Justus-von-Liebig-Str. 7, 12489 Berlin


My research focuses on global change effects in river ecosystems, large scale patterns of freshwater biodiversity, and river health. I am interested and engaged in large international initiatives like the Freshwater-BON, like maintaining and developing the Freshwater Information Platform, and thinking about effective communication to support efforts in freshwater conservation.

Webpage of the Lab

Lab members

Postdocs: Sami Domisch, Jens Kiesel

Gues scientist: Alain Maasri

PhD students: Martin Friedrichs, Fengzhi He, Katie Irving, Karan Kakouei

Technicians, GIS: Vanessa Bremerich, Annett Wetzig


since 2014: Scientist, IGB: Global change effects in river ecosystems

2010-2013: Junior research group leader, Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK‐F), Frankfurt

2009: Postdoc, Department of River Ecology and Conservation, Senckenberg, Frankfurt

2008: Postdoc, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chin. Acad. of Sciences, Wuhan

2004-2007: PhD, Dept. of Applied Zoology/Hydrobiology, University of Duisburg‐Essen

2001-2003: Postgraduate Scholarship "Language & Professional Experience China", Beijing, China

1997-2001: Diploma Environmental Sciences, University of Duisburg-Essen


Climate change affects not only air temperature and precipitation, but also our streams and rivers: water temperature is rising, river flow characteristics are changing, oxygen concentration is sinking, while nutrient concentrations increase. This is not without consequence for the plants and animals living in freshwaters.
Contact person
Sonja Jähnig
(Dept. 2) Ecosystem Research


AQUACROSS is a Horizon 2020 project which aims to support EU efforts to protect aquatic biodiversity and ensure the provision of aquatic ecosystem services. As such, AQUACROSS seeks to advance knowledge and application of ecosystem-based management for aquatic ecosystems to support the timely achievement of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy targets.   
Contact person
Sonja Jähnig
Martin Pusch
(Dept. 2) Ecosystem Research


The SMART Joint Doctorate focuses on the core areas of natural and engineering sciences relevant to the sustainable management of river systems from their headwaters to estuaries. SMART aims to provide education and research at PhD level by offering a 3-year programme within the Erasmus Mundus action. It adopts a multidisciplinary, multi-scale approach that integrates relevant aspects of the physical, chemical and biological sciences, including relevant theory, monitoring and modelling.
Contact person
Ina Severin
Franz Hölker
(Dept. 1) Ecohydrology
(Dept. 2) Ecosystem Research
(Dept. 5) Ecophysiology and Aquaculture
(Dept. 6) Chemical Analytics and Biogeochemistry

WANDEL: Water resources as important factors in the energy transition at the local and global level

Water and energy are crucial to sustainable development, both globally and within Germany. WANDEL focuses on the question of whether limited water availability restricts the use of conventional energy systems and thereby accelerates the energy transition, or whether it actually slows the transition down.
Contact person
Sonja Jähnig
Martin Pusch
(Dept. 2) Ecosystem Research


Kris van Looy; Jonathan D. Tonkin; Mathieu Floury; Catherine Leigh; Janne Soininen; Stefano Larsen; Jani Heino; N. LeRoy Poff; Michael Delong; Sonja C. Jähnig; Thibault Datry; Nuria Bonada; Juliette Rosebery; Aurelien Jamoneau; Steve J. Ormerod; Kevin J. Collier; Christian Wolter

The three Rs of river ecosystem resilience: resources, recruitment, and refugia

River Research and Applications. - 35(2019)2, S. 107-120


Jens Kiesel; Daniel Hering; Maria Ceylan; Mathias Kuemmerlen; Sonja Jähnig; Britta Schmalz; Nicola Fohrer

Modelling freshwater habitats and their macroinvertebrate communities

Novel methods and results of landscape research in Europe, Central Asia and Siberia : monograph in 5 volumes. Vol. III: Landscape monitoring and modelling = Novye metody i rezul'taty issledovanij landsaftov v Evrope, Central'noj Azii i Sibiri / glavn. red.: Viktor G. Sycev i Lotar Mjuller. - Moskva, 2018. - T. III, ch. III/63, S. 301-306

Wiliam Darwall; Vanessa Bremerich; Aaike De Wever; Anthony I. Dell; Jörg Freyhof; Mark O. Gessner; Hans-Peter Grossart; Ian Harrison; Ken Irvine; Sonja C. Jähnig; Jonathan M. Jeschke; Jessica J. Lee; Cai Lu; Aleksandra M. Lewandowska; Michael T. Monaghan; Jens C. Nejstgaard; Harmony Patricio; Astrid Schmidt-Kloiber; Simon N. Stuart; Michele Thieme; Klement Tockner; Eren Turak; Olaf Weyl

The Alliance for Freshwater Life: a global call to unite efforts for freshwater biodiversity science and conservation

Aquatic Conservation. - 28(2018)4, S. 1015-1022


Gregor Kalinkat; Juliano S. Cabral; William Darwall; G. Francesco Ficetola; Judith L. Fisher; Darren P. Giling; Marie-Pierre Gosselin; Hans-Peter Grossart; Sonja C. Jähnig; Jonathan M. Jeschke; Klaus Knopf; Stefano Larsen; Gabriela Onandia; Marlene Paetzig; Wolf-Christian Saul; Gabriel Singer; Erik Sperfeld; Ivan Jaric

Flagship umbrella species needed for the conservation of overlooked aquatic biodiversity

Conservation Biology. - 31(2017)2, S. 481-485





Mathias Kuemmerlen; Britta Schmalz; Qinghua Cai; Peter Haase; Nicola Fohrer; Sonja C. Jähnig

An attack on two fronts

Freshwater Biology. - 60(2015)7, S. 1443-1458





All Publications


Kalinkat G, Jähnig SC, Jeschke JM. 2017. Exceptional body size-extinction risk relations shed new light on the freshwater biodiversity crisis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1717087114.

Domisch S, Portmann F, Haase P, Döll P, Jähnig SC. 2017. Assessing the influence of hydrology on the occurrence of benthic invertebrates. Ecohydrology. DOI: 10.1002/eco.1895.

Carrizo SF, Jähnig SC#, Bremerich V, Freyhof J, Harrison I, He F, Langhans SD, Tockner K, Zarfl C, Darwall W. 2017. Freshwater megafauna: Global flagships for freshwater biodiversity under threat. BioScience 67:919–927. #corresponding author

Jähnig SC, Tonkin JD, Gies M, Domisch S, Hering D, Haase P. 2017. Severity multipliers as a methodology to explore potential effects of climate change on stream bioassessment programs. Water 9:188, doi:110.3390/w9040188.

Kakouei K, Kiesel J, Pusch M, Kail J, Jähnig SC. 2017. Quantitative hydrologic preferences of benthic stream invertebrates in Germany. Ecological Indicators 9:163-172.

Kiesel J, Guse B, Pfannerstill M, Kakouei K, Jähnig S*, Fohrer N*. 2017. Improving hydrological model optimization for riverine species. Ecological Indicators 80:376-385.

He F, Zarfl C, Bremerich V, Henshaw A, Darwall W, Tockner K, Jähnig SC. 2017. Disappearing giants: a review of threats on freshwater megafauna. WIREs Water doi: 10.1002/wat1002.1208.

Kalinkat G, Cabral JS, Darwall W, Ficetola GF, Fisher JL, Giling D, Gosselin M-P, Grossart H-P, Jähnig SC, Jeschke JM, Knopf K, Larsen S, Onandia G, Paetzig M, Saul W-C, Singer G, Sperfeld E, and Jarić I. 2017. Flagship umbrella species needed for the conservation of overlooked aquatic biodiversity. Conservation Biology 31(2): 481-485.

Tonkin JD, Tachamo-Shah RD, Shah DN, Hoppeler F, Jähnig SC*, and Pauls SU*. 2017. Metacommunity structuring in Himalayan streams over large elevational gradients: the role of dispersal routes and niche characteristics. Journal of Biogeography 44: 62–74.

Hoppeler F, Shah RDT, Shah DN, Jähnig SC, Tonkin JD, Sharma S, and Pauls SU. 2016. Environmental and spatial characterisation of an unknown fauna using DNA sequencing – An example with Himalayan Hydropsychidae (Insecta: Trichoptera). Freshwater Biology 61:1905–1920.

Tonkin JD, Heino J, Sundermann A, Haase P*, Jähnig SC*. 2016. Context dependency in biodiversity patterns of stream metacommunities. Freshwater Biology 61: 607–620.

Tonkin JD, Stoll S, Haase P, Jähnig SC. 2016. Elements of metacommunity structure of river and riparian assemblages: communities, taxonomic groups and deconstructed trait groups. Ecological Complexity 25: 35–43.

Tonkin JD, Stoll S, Jähnig SC*, Haase P*. 2016. Contrasting metacommunity structure and beta diversity in a river-floodplain system. Oikos 125: 686-697.

Tonkin JD, Stoll S, Jähnig SC*, Haase P*. 2016. Anthropogenic land-use stress alters community concordance at the river-riparian interface. Ecological Indicators 65: 133-141.

Tonkin JD, Sundermann A, Jähnig SC*, Haase P*. 2015. Environmental controls on river assemblages at the regional scale: an application of the Elements of Metacommunity Structure framework. PlosONE 10(8):e0135450.

Shah DN, Tonkin JD, Haase P*, Jähnig SC*. 2015. Latitudinal patterns and determinants of aquatic insect richness across Europe. Limnologica 55:33-43.

Tonkin JD, Shah DN, Kuemmerlen M, Li F, Cai Q, Haase P*, Jähnig SC*. 2015. Climatic and catchment-scale predictors of Chinese stream insect richness differ with order. PlosONE 10:e0123250.

Tachamo-Shah RD, Sharma S, Haase P, Jähnig SC*, Pauls SU*. 2015. The climate sensitive zone along an altitudinal gradient in central Himalayan rivers: a useful concept to monitor climate change impacts in mountain regions. Climatic Change 132:265–278.

Schmalz B, Qi Z, Kuemmerlen M, Cai Q, Jähnig SC*, Fohrer N*. 2015. Modelling spatial distribution of surface runoff and sediment yield in a Chinese river basin without continuous sediment monitoring. Hydrological Science Journal 60:801–824.

Kuemmerlen M, Schmalz B, Cai Q, Haase P, Fohrer N, Jähnig SC. 2015. An attack on two fronts: how predicted climate and land use changes affect the predicted distribution of stream macroinvertebrates. Freshwater Biology 60:1443–1458.

Kiesel J, Schröder M, Hering D, Schmalz B, Hörmann G, Jähnig SC, Fohrer N. 2015. A new model linking macroinvertebrate assemblages to habitat composition in rivers: development, sensitivity and univariate application. Fundamental and Applied Limnology (Archiv für Hydrobiologie) 186:117–133.

Jähnig SC, Shah DN, Shah RDT, Li F, Cai Q, Sundermann A, Tonkin JD, Stendera S. 2015. Community-environment relationships of riverine invertebrate communities in central Chinese streams. Environmental Earth Sciences 74:6431–6442.

Favre A, Päckert M, Pauls SU, Jähnig SC, Uhl D, Michalak I, Muellner-Riehl AN. 2015. The role of the uplift of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau for the evolution of Tibetan biotas. Biological Reviews 90:236–253.

Domisch S, Jähnig SC, Simaika JP, Kuemmerlen M, Stoll S. 2015. Application of species distribution models in stream ecosystems: the challenge of spatial scale, environmental predictors and species occurrence data. Fundamental and Applied Limnology (Archiv für Hydrobiologie) 186:45–61.

Chen C, Börnick H, Cai Q, Dai X, Jähnig SC, Kong Y, Krebs P, Kuenzer C, Kunstmann H, Liu Y, et al. 2015. Challenges and opportunities of German-Chinese cooperation in water science and technology. Environmental Earth Sciences 73:4861-4871.

Tonkin J, Jähnig SC*, Haase P*. 2014. The Rise of Riverine Flow-ecology and Environmental Flow Research. Environmental Processes 1:323–330.

Shah DN, Domisch S, Pauls SU, Haase P, Jähnig SC. 2014. Current and Future Latitudinal Gradients in Stream Macroinvertebrate Richness Across North America. Freshwater Science 33:1136-1147.

Schmalz B, Kuemmerlen M, Kiesel J, Cai Q, Jähnig SC, Fohrer N. 2014. Impacts of land use changes on hydrological components and macroinvertebrate distributions in the Poyang lake area. Ecohydrology DOI: 10.1002/eco.1569.

Kuemmerlen M, Schmalz B, Guse B, Cai Q, Fohrer N, Jähnig SC. 2014. Integrating catchment properties in small scale species distribution models of stream macroinvertebrates. Ecological Modelling 277:77-86.

Januschke K, Jähnig SC, Lorenz AW, Hering D. 2014. Mountain river restoration measures and their success(ion): effects on river morphology, local species pool, and functional composition of three organism groups. Ecological Indicators 38:243–255.

Schröder M, Kiesel J, Schattmann A, Jähnig SC, Lorenz AW, Kramm S, Keizer-Vlek H, Rolauffs P, Graf W, Leitner P, et al. 2013. Substratum associations of benthic invertebrates in lowland and mountain streams. Ecological Indicators 30:178–189.

Jähnig SC, Lorenz AW, Lorenz RRC, Kail J. 2013. A comparison of habitat diversity and interannual habitat dynamics in actively and passively restored mountain rivers of Germany. Hydrobiologia 712:89-104.

Haase P, Hering D, Jähnig SC, Lorenz AW, Sundermann A. 2013. The impact of hydromorphological restoration on river ecological status: a comparison of fish, benthic invertebrates, and macrophytes. Hydrobiologia 704:475-488.

Domisch S, Kuemmerlen M, Jähnig SC*, Haase P*. 2013. Choice of study area and predictors affect habitat suitability projections, but not the performance of species distribution models of stream biota. Ecological Modelling 257:1– 10.

Domisch S, Araújo MB, Bonada N, Pauls SU, Jähnig SC*, Haase P*. 2013. Modelling distribution in European stream macroinvertebrates under future climates. Global Change Biology 19:752–762.

Schmalz B, Kuemmerlen M, Strehmel A, Song S, Cai Q, Jähnig SC, Fohrer N. 2012. Integrierte Modellierung von aquatischen Ökosystemen in China: Ökohydrologie und Hydraulik. Hydrologie und Wasserbewirtschaftung 56:169-184.

Li F, Cai Q, Qu X, Tang T, Wu N, Fu X, Duan S, Jähnig SC. 2012. Characterizing macroinvertebrate communities across China: large- scale implementation of a self-organizing map. Ecological Indicators 23:394–401.

Kuemmerlen M, Domisch S, Schmalz B, Cai Q, Fohrer N, Jähnig SC. 2012. Integrierte Modellierung von aquatischen Ökosystemen in China: Arealbestimmung von Makrozoobenthos auf Einzugsgebietsebene. Hydrologie und Wasserbewirtschaftung 56:185-192.

Kail J, Arle J, Jähnig SC. 2012. Limiting factors and thresholds for macroinvertebrate assemblages in European rivers: Empirical evidence from three datasets on water quality, catchment urbanization, and river restoration. Ecological Indicators 18:63-72.

Jähnig SC, Kuemmerlen M, Kiesel J, Domisch S, Cai Q, Schmalz B, Fohrer N. 2012. Modelling of riverine ecosystems by integrating models: conceptual approach, a case study and research agenda. Journal of Biogeography 39:2253–2263.

Jähnig SC, Lorenz AW, Hering D, Antons C, Sundermann A, Jedicke E, Haase P. 2011. River restoration success: a question of perception. Ecological Applications 21:2007-2015.

Domisch S, Jähnig SC*, Haase P*. 2011. Climate-change winners and losers: stream macroinvertebrates of a submontane region in Central Europe. Freshwater Biology 56:2009–2020.

Brederveld RJ, Brunzel S, Lorenz AW, Jähnig SC, Soons MB. 2011. Dispersal is a limiting factor in the colonization of restored mountain streams by plants and macroinvertebrates. Journal of Applied Ecology 48:1241–1250.

Jähnig SC, Cai Q. 2010. River water quality assessment in selected Yangtze tributaries: Background and method development. Journal of Earth Science 21:876–881.

Jähnig SC, Brabec K, Buffagni A, Erba S, Lorenz AW, Ofenböck T, Verdonschot PFM, Hering D. 2010. A comparative analysis of restoration measures and their effects on hydromorphology and benthic invertebrates in 26 central and southern European rivers. Journal of Applied Ecology 47:671–680.

Lorenz AW, Jähnig SC, Hering D. 2009. Re-Meandering German Lowland Streams: Qualitative and Quantitative Effects of Restoration Measures on Hydromorphology and Macroinvertebrates. Environmental Management 44:745-754.

Kail J, Jähnig SC, Hering D. 2009. Relation between floodplain land use and river hydromorphology on different spatial scales a case study from two lower-mountain catchments in Germany. Fundamental and Applied Limnology (Archiv für Hydrobiologie) 174:63-73.

Jähnig SC, Lorenz AW, Hering D. 2009. Restoration effort, habitat mosaics, and macroinvertebrates  -  does channel form determine community composition? Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 19:157-169.

Jähnig SC, Brunzel S, Gacek S, Lorenz AW, Hering D. 2009. Effects of re-braiding measures on hydromorphology, floodplain vegetation, ground beetles and benthic invertebrates in mountain rivers. Journal of Applied Ecology 46:406-416.

Jähnig SC, Lorenz AW, Hering D. 2008. Hydromorphological parameters indicating differences between single- and multiple-channel mountain rivers in Germany, in relation to their modification and recovery. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 18:1200-1216.

Jähnig SC, Lorenz AW. 2008. Substrate-specific macroinvertebrate diversity patterns following stream restoration. Aquatic Sciences - Research Across Boundaries 70:292-303.


Books and book chapters

Kiesel J, Hering D, Ceylan M, Kuemmerlen M, Jähnig SC, Schmalz B, Fohrer N. (in press). Modelling freshwater habitats and their macroinvertebrate communities in Mueller L, ed. Novel Methods and Results of Landscape Research in Europe, Central Asia and Siberia.

Jähnig SC, Sommerhäuser M und Hering D (Eds). 2011. Fließgewässerrenaturierung heute und morgen - Wasserrahmenrichtlinie, Maßnahmen und Effizienzkontrolle. Limnologie aktuell Vol. 13. E. Schweitzerbartschen Verlagsbuchhandlung (Nägele u. Obermiller) Stuttgart.

Jähnig SC, Lorenz A, Brunzel S, Hering D. 2011. Renaturierung von Mittelgebirgsflüssen – Auswirkung auf verschiedene Organismengruppen: Makrozoobenthos, Auenvegetation, Laufkäfer. In Fließgewässerrenaturierung heute und morgen - Wasserrahmenrichtlinie, Massnahmen und Effizienzkontrolle (Eds. Jähnig SC, Sommerhäuser M, Hering D). pp. 43-58. Nägele u. Obermiller Stuttgart.

Jähnig SC, Sommerhäuser M, Hering D. 2011. Fließgewässer-Renaturierung heute: Zielsetzungen, Methodik und Effizienzkontrolle. In Fließgewässerrenaturierung heute und morgen - Wasserrahmenrichtlinie, Maßnahmen und Effizienzkontrolle (Eds. Jähnig SC, Sommerhäuser M, Hering D). pp. 1-6. Nägele u. Obermiller Stuttgart.

Hering D, Jähnig SC, Sommerhäuser M. 2011. Fließgewässer-Renaturierung morgen: Zusammenfassende Bewertung und Handlungsempfehlungen. In Fließgewässerrenaturierung heute und morgen - Wasserrahmenrichtlinie, Maßnahmen und Effizienzkontrolle (Eds. Jähnig SC, Sommerhäuser M, Hering D). pp. 273-279. Nägele u. Obermiller Stuttgart.

Verdonschot PFM, Hering D, Murphy J, Jähnig SC, Rose NL, Graf W, Brabec K and Sandin L. 2010. Climate change and the hydrology and morphology of freshwater ecosystems. In Climate Change Impacts on Freshwater Ecosystems (Eds. Kernan M, Battarbee R, Moss B), pp. 65-83. Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Abendroth G v, Dombrowsky M, Hennings D, Jähnig S, Lotz EM, Sobotka M, Stock J, Ulbig A, Wesner P and Wittmann T (editors). 2008. Gemacht für die Zukunft... Kreislaufwirtschaft in der Unternehmenspraxis. Murmann Verlag Hamburg.

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