About Glance

Global change effects in river ecosystems (Glance)

For the projection of changes in the species communities’ knowledge of preferred discharge and flow conditions is required

Glance is a formerly four-year (2014-2018) research project, which is in its fifth year after extension, conducted at the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), Berlin and funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). GLANCE investigates the impacts of changing flow conditions in rivers on benthic invertebrates, i.e. organisms that live in or on the bottom sediments of rivers and lakes, such as larvae of mayflies, caddisflies or stoneflies, mussels, snails, or worms.

Global change is expected to impact freshwater ecosystems severely, e.g. by prolonged periods of drought, an increasing number of floods, or reduced supply of good quality freshwater. It is thought that streams and rivers are particularly vulnerable to global change and that species inhabiting stream ecosystems are among the most vulnerable species because of the highly complex interactions between the hydrosphere and biosphere. But until now, a rather qualitative understanding of processes prevails and we do not understand how these changes will overall affect the function of rivers. Glance will target these research gaps from various sides.

Investigating this impact of changing flow conditions in rivers and their benthic invertebrates GLANCE was divided in four sub-projects:

Sub-project 1: Determination and quantification of flow traits of benthic invertebrates

Sub-project 2: Quantification of global change impacts on hydrological and hydraulic conditions

Sub-project 3: Improvement of climate change projections for benthic invertebrates

Sub-project 4: Analysis of flow related changes and possible ecological effects at large spatial scales

Three different ecoregions in Germany act as model catchments for analysis of recent and modelling of future flow conditions and ecosystem stability

In a first step, the ecological requirements of benthic invertebrates are statistically evaluated based on available data which are extended by field sampling in three German catchments (lowlands: Treene, low mountain range: Kinzig, alpine: Ammer). Three linked hydrological and hydraulic model systems are developed in the three catchments. The results of the simulations are hydrologic and hydraulic parameters of recent and future conditions. These findings, resulting from modelling, sampling and data analyses are integrated in forecast tools to model the impacts of discharge changes on benthic invertebrates. The project eventually aims for gathering data and carrying out comparative data analyses on a European or global level.

Research results can improve water management

It is expected that the findings will, in the long run, contribute to a more effective allocation of funds for river management, e.g. through the design of suitable monitoring schemes, or through improved predictions of success of river rehabilitation measures. Through the agreed cooperation with the German Working Group on water issues (LAWA) and the German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA), the project seeks a transfer of results to operational water management.

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