Periphytic algae are in the focus of Elisabeth Bondar-Kunzes PhD-thesis. Periphytic algae can be expected to reflect short-term impacts and sudden changes and disturbances in the environment additionally to long-term changes. Periphyton can play an important role for biogeochemical processes in riverine ecosystems and has a rapid reproduction rate and very short life cycles. Elisabeth Bondar-Kunze successfully finished her thesis with the title “The effect of different hydrological alterations on periphyton development in riverine ecosystems” supervised by Thomas Hein in April.


In March the new FWF project FLASHMOB “Fluxes Affected by Stream Hydrophytes: Modelling Of Biogeochemistry” started. It is a project of working group BioFrames in cooperation with the University of Antwerp and it will last until 2020.


In the course of the programme Österreich forscht the so called Citizen Science Day took place in the Natural History Museum Vienna. Activities from all over Austria were presented.

WasserCluster presented current research, at our desk the mostly young visitors had the possibility to investigate water samples. Basis was the Citizen Science project „Wasser schafft“, which is a cooperation between WasserCluster and schools.


Sebastian Schultz successfully defended his PhD last week (Feb 17, 2017) at the University of Vienna. In his research he tested how fish feeds of different dietary composition affected biomass accrual, lipid and fatty acid composition, and methyl mercury bioaccumulation in Common Carp in aquaculture ponds of Lower Austria. Sebastian's research was conducted in the research group LIPTOX and supported by the Austrian Science Fund project L516-B17. Congratulations!

EcoCatch - Stream Ecology and Catchment Biogeochemistry - is the new group name of the former working group BERG. Since Jakob Schelker took over the lead of the group from Tom Battin two years ago, the focus has shifted towards investigating the importance of soil-stream connectivity and in-stream processing for landscape biogeochemistry. Main research topics of EcoCatch are biogeochemistry, stream ecology, microbial ecology and biodiversity of streams, cycling of carbon, nutrients and metals.

More about the working groups

Since January 1st 2017 WasserCluster Manager Thomas Hein is new university professor for Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Management (successor of Prof. Jungwirt) at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna. Congratulations from the WasserCluster team

Agriculture is the dominant land use form in Lower Austria, covering more than 46 % of the total area. Agriculture delivers significant amounts of dissolved organic matter (DOM) to streams, thereby changing basic processes at the water-sediment interface and affecting the ecological state of the stream ecosystem. In January 2017 WasserCluster Lunz started the project “organic carbon cycling in streams” with project leader Gabriele Weigelhofer. The aim of the project is, thus, to investigate the influence of agricultural land use on the quantity and quality of DOM inputs to streams and to clarify the effects of this DOM on the aquatic carbon cycling in stream ecosystems.


Veronika Kasper wrote her master thesis under supervision of Thomas Hein about Microphytobenthos (MPB), small algae attached to a substrate. It plays a major role in lotic ecosystems and is often affected by multiple stressors. Thermopeaking (TP) combines stress of sudden flow velocity increase (Hydropeaking) and abrupt water temperature alteration. Although this effect is prevalent in alpine regions, studies concerning its influence on MPB are a critical knowledge gap. Therefore the aim of this project was to provide knowledge about the impact of TP on MPB, considering as well successional and habitat aspects.