Use and management

Freshwaters are used in many ways: as a drinking water supply, for industrial transportation and for recreation. All these functions, also referred to as ecosystem services, can only be ensured if rivers and lakes are in a good ecological state. Since its introduction in 2002, the Water Framework Directive has called for just that. And yet water is a scarce resource in many regions of the world. The growing pressure caused by mining, industry, hydroelectric power production and agriculture affects water quality and the passage of freshwaters. At IGB, we develop concepts for the future-oriented management of freshwater resources for the welfare of humans and nature. We investigate how anthropogenic influences affect freshwaters, and how lakes, flowing waters and wetlands can be used sustainably and revitalised efficiently.

Related News

press release

Small hydropower plants do more harm than good

Around half of the hydropower plants in Romania are located in nature conservation areas. These are mostly small plants that contribute only 3 percent of Romania's electricity generation, but threaten biodiversity.
press release

New journal presents knowledge from fisheries research

The “Zeitschrift für Fischerei” (or “FischZeit” for short) is the first peer-reviewed, German-language journal for fisheries research that brings together knowledge on all aspects of commercial and recreational fisheries, aquaculture, stock management, and fish conservation in inland, coastal and marine ecosystems.

Selected publications

May 2021
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. - 145(2021), Art. 111003

A review of hydropower plants in Romania: distribution, current knowledge, and their effects on fish in headwater streams

Gabriela Costea; Martin T. Pusch; Doru Bănăduc; Diana Cosmoiu; Angela Curtean-Bănăduc

Hydropower is renewable, but mostly not environmentally friendly. The study shows for Romania how the expansion of hydropower runs counter to the goals of EU environmental policy. Hydropower conflicts with the requirements of the Flora-Fauna-Habitat Directive and the European Water Framework Directive: around half of the hydropower plants in Romania are located in nature conservation areas.

February 2021
Journal of Environmental Management. - 286(2021), Art. 112100

How much habitat does a river need?: a spatially-explicit population dynamics model to assess ratios of ontogenetical habitat needs

David Farò; Guido Zolezzi; Christian Wolter

The authors used a spatially explicit population dynamics model for the barbel to investigate the functional dependencies of sub-habitats. They showed that revitalising only spawning or only juvenile habitats is not effective; the functional unit and a minimum size of habitats are essential. The model helps to predict the revitalisation success on the basis of the size.

December 2020
Nature. - 588(2020), S. 436–441

More than one million barriers fragment Europe’s rivers

Barbara Belletti; Carlos Garcia de Leaniz; Joshua Jones; Simone Bizzi; Luca Börger; Gilles Segura; Andrea Castelletti; Wouter van de Bund; Kim Aarestrup; James Barry; Kamila Belka; Arjan Berkhuysen; Kim Birnie-Gauvin; Martina Bussettini; Mauro Carolli; Sofia Consuegra; Eduardo Dopico; Tim Feierfeil; Sara Fernández; Pao Fernandez Garrido; Eva Garcia-Vazquez; Sara Garrido; Guillermo Giannico; Peter Gough; Niels Jepsen; Peter E. Jones; Paul Kemp; Jim Kerr; James King; Małgorzata Łapińska; Gloria Lázaro; Martyn C. Lucas; Lucio Marcello; Patrick Martin; Phillip McGinnity; Jesse O’Hanley; Rosa Olivo del Amo; Piotr Parasiewicz; Martin Pusch; Gonzalo Rincon; Cesar Rodriguez; Joshua Royte; Claus Till Schneider; Jeroen S. Tummers; Sergio Vallesi; Andrew Vowles; Eric Verspoor; Herman Wanningen; Karl M. Wantzen; Laura Wildman; Maciej Zalewski

The study shows: Europe has some of the most fragmented rivers in the world. On average, there is about one barrier per 1.4 kilometres of stream, in Germany even two barriers per kilometre. Small transverse structures with an impoundment height of less than two metres account for the lion's share. The study also shows opportunities for reconnecting streams and rivers.

December 2020
Water Research. - 186(2020),116319

Spatial and temporal variability of methane emissions from cascading reservoirs in the Upper Mekong River

L. Liu; Z.J. Yang; K. Delwiche; L.H. Longa; J. Liu; D.F. Liu; C.F. Wang; P. Bodmer; A. Lorke

Potential sediment methane production rates increase along the reservoir cascade in the Upper Mekong River. Ebullition is an important but previously overlooked pathway for methane emission. Both diffusive and ebullitive fluxes show high intra and inter reservoir variability. Fluxes fall into the low-to-mid range of global estimates for hydropower reservoirs.

November 2020
Biological Conservation. - 251(2020) art. 108764

On the conservation value of historic canals for aquatic ecosystems

Hsien-Yung Lin; Steven J. Cooke; Christian Wolter; Nathan Young; Joseph R. Bennett

The authors reviewed ecological studies in historic canal systems, examined the potential of historic canals to contribute to aquatic biodiversity conservation, and provided suggestions to promote biodiversity conservation given the opportunities and challenges in canal management (e.g., nature conservation vs historic preservation).

Related Projects


IGB (project lead Thomas Mehner) is part of a consortium that is running a new Horizon 2020 project ‘PONDERFUL’, led by the University of Vic (Spain). The project’s overarching aim is to develop improved methods for maximising the use of ponds and pondscapes in climate change adaptation and mitigation, biodiversity conservation and the delivery of ecosystem services.
Contact person
Thomas Mehner
Sabine Hilt
Pieter Lemmens
(Dept. 2) Ecosystem Research
(Dept. 4) Biology and Ecology of Fishes


Feeding urban populations is a global challenge, additionally straining the Food-Water-Energy Nexus. CITYFOOD provides innovative solutions by integrating aqua-agriculture systems into cities.
Contact person
Werner Kloas
Daniela Baganz
(Dept. 4) Biology and Ecology of Fishes
(Dept. 5) Ecophysiology and Aquaculture


Spatio-temporal high-resolution analysis of water-based recreational activities, resulting impacts and conflicts of use, as well as derivation of a socio-ecological management concept.
Contact person
Markus Venohr
Simone A. Podschun
Judith Mahnkopf
(Dept. 1) Ecohydrology
(Dept. 4) Biology and Ecology of Fishes


Water-ForCE will bring together experts on water quality and quantity, in policy, research, engineering and service sectors to develop a Roadmap for the water component for the future Copernicus services.
Contact person
Igor Ogashawara
(Dept. 3) Experimental Limnology

Related Downloads

IGB feedback on the EU consultation towards binding EU restoration targets

Outlines | IGB Policy Brief: Plans to regulate the River Oder pose risks to nature and sustainable use

Outlines | IGB Policy Brief: Strengths and weaknesses of the Water Framework Directive (WFD)

The IGB Policy Brief recommends continued commitment to the objectives of the WFD and improved practical implementation – and offers options for action to policy makers and practitioners.

Kharaa Yeröö River Basin Atlas

The Atlas is written in Mongolian and English language, as a joint activity of IGB and its Mongolian partner IGG. The science based fundamentals of monitoring and research results of MoMo are documented and continuously updated as maps and texts for discussions with stakeholders and decision makers.

M.Sc. Fish Biology, Fisheries and Aquaculture – Arrival and Survival Guide

Everything you need to know about the International Master Program in Fish Biology, Fisheries and Aquaculture! The program is jointly coordinated by the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and the Institute of Inland Fisheries in Potsdam Sacrow.

Experts at IGB

Robert Arlinghaus

Research Group Leader
Research group
Integrative Recreational Fisheries Management

Jörn Gessner

Research Group Leader
Research group
Reintroduction of the European Sturgeon to Germany

Michael Hupfer

Head of Department a.i.
Research group
Biogeochemical Processes in Sediments and Lake Management

Martin Pusch

Research Group Leader
Research group
Functional Ecology and Management of Rivers and Lake Shores

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