Prof. Dr. Klement Tockner

Science offers much more freedom than we use. This is a dilemma of science: we are not brave enough, we are not uncomfortable enough, we do not use freedom enough. The greatest responsibility actually lies with those who have the privilege of a permanent position in science. They have to think big, start long-term projects, and set an example for the community.

(Klement Tockner, 2018)

Curriculum vitae

Klement Tockner is Director General of the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research and professor for Ecosystem Sciences at Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main (since 2021). He was President of the Austrian Science Fund – FWF (2016-2020), full professor for Aquatic Ecology at the Free University Berlin (2007-2020) and director of the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), Berlin (2007-2016). He received a PhD from the University of Vienna (1993) and a Titulary Professorship at ETH Zürich (2005). He is an internationally leading freshwater scientist, in particular in the research domains biodiversity, ecosystem science and environmental management. He is Co-Editor of the journal Aquatic Sciences and Subject Editor of the journal Ecosystems. He has published about 250 scientific papers including 179 ISI papers. In 2009, he edited a comprehensive book on European Rivers (Rivers of Europe, Elsevier; 2nd Edition in 2021). Klement Tockner has successfully managed large inter- and transdisciplinary projects such as the EC-funded project BioFresh. He is member of several scientific committees and advisory boards including the National Institute of Environmental Studies, Japan (NIES) and the Biology Research Centre (CZ). He is elected member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the German Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina.


BC – Biology Centre of CAS, České Budějovice, Czech Republic (since 2019)

ZALF – Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research, Müncheberg, Germany (since 2016)

NIES – National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan (since 2015)

BfG – Federal Institute of Hydrology, Bonn, Germany (2011-2016; co-chair)

ICRA – Catalan Water Research Institute, Girona, Spain (2009-2016)


Career / Employment History

Since 2021 Director General of the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research (SGN)

Since 2021 Professor for Ecosystem Sciences at Goethe-University Frankfurt

2017-2021 Head of the Austrian Agency for Research Integrity – ÖAWI, Vienna, Austria

2016-2020 President of the Austrian Science Fund – FWF, Vienna, Austria

2007-2020 Professor for Aquatic Ecology at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

2007-2016 Director of the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), Berlin, Germany

2005 Titulary Professorship at ETH Zürich, Switzerland 

2004 – 2005 Guest Scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, NY, USA

2002 JSPS research fellow at the Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan

1999 – 2007 Group leader at EAWAG/ETH, Dübendorf, Switzerland

1996 – 1999 Assistant professor (‘Oberassistent’) at ETH Zurich, Switzerland

1994 – 1996 Postdoctoral fellow at University of Vienna, Austria

1993 – 1994 Freshwater consultant in Rwanda and Uganda, Africa

1993 Ph.D in Zoology & Botany at University of Vienna, Austria


BIOFRESH: Coordinator of FP7-EU Project (2009-2014)

DIVERSITAS: Member of DIVERSITAS freshwaterBIODIVERSITY (2009- 2013)

Member of the Jury of the European Rivers Prize (2013) Member of the Jury of the Katerva Prize (since 2012)

ISRS: International Society for River Science: Member of the Board of Directors (2009-2013)

BeGenDiv (Berlin Center for Genomics in Biodiversity Research): Co-Speaker (2011-2016)

UNEP Project on Water Quality Guidelines for Ecosystems: Member of the Scientific Drafting Group.

Main Reviewer of the Global Environmental Outlook Report 5 of UNEP (Chapter Biodiversity)

Evaluation committee member of various research institutions in Germany, Czech Republic and Austria

Panel chair of the evaluation committee of the University of Uppsala (2017)

Science Europe: member of the executive committee (2016-2020) and the governance boards (2017)


Editorial activities

Editor-in-Chief (2005-2014), Co-Editor (2015-2019) and Editorial Board Member (since 2020) of the journal Aquatic Sciences: Research across Boundaries

Subject Editor (since 2005) of the journal Ecosystems

Co-Editor of four special issues (Aquatic Sciences, Freshwater Biology, Rivers Research and Application, Fundamental & Applied Limnology)


Forschungsverbund Berlin

Speaker of a network of eight research institutes of the Leibniz Association (2011-2013), Co-Speaker (2015-2016)


Leibniz Association

Speaker of the Leibniz Biodiversity Network (LVB), a network of 22 institutes (2009-2014)

Speaker of the Section “Environmental Sciences” (Sektion E: Umweltwissenschaften; 2011-2013)


Prizes & Awards (Selection)

Elected member of the German Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina (elected in 2015), Elected member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (kMA, elected in 2012), Wikimedia Prize for “Freies Wissen” (FWF, 2019), Fenner Lecture (UNC-Chapel Hill, USA, 2013), Margalef Lecture (Guimares, Portugal, 2012), Fellow of JSPS, Sendai, Japan (2002), Liepolt-Prize for Danube Research (1999).




Mehner T, Likens GE, Tockner, K. (Eds)(forthcoming) Encyclopedia of Inland Waters. Elsevier.

Tockner, K., Uehlinger U, Robsinson CT (Eds) (2009) Rivers of Europe. Elsevier/ Academic Press. 700 pages (2nd Edition: 2021)

Woolsey S, Weber C, Gonser T, Hoehn E, Hostmann M, Junker B, Roulier C, Schweizer S, Tiegs S, Tockner, K., Peter A (2005) Handbook for Evaluating Rehabilitation Projects in Rivers and Streams. A Publication of the Rhone-Thur Project. Eawag, WSL, LCH-EPFL, VAW-ETHZ. 112 pp.

Special issues

Lewandowski J, Nützmann G, Tockner, K. (2014) (Eds) Frontiers in Real- Time Ecohydrology. Fundamental and Applied Limnology 184 (3).

Milner AM, Tockner, K. (2010) (Eds) Freshwater Benthic Science – what has it contributed to ecological theory? River Research and Applications 26.

Gurnell A, Tubino M, Tockner, K. (2009) (Eds) Linkages and feedbacks in highly dynamic alpine fluvial systems. Aquatic Sciences 71.

Tockner, K., Kollmann J, Edwards PE, Ward JV (2002) (Eds) Riverine Landscapes. Freshwater Biology 47.

Selected articles

*He, F., Zarfl, C., Bremerich, V., David, J. N., Hogan, Z., Kalinkat, G., Tockner, K. & Jähnig, S. C. (2019). The global decline of freshwater megafauna. Global Change Biology 25: 3883-3892.

Grill, G., Lehner, B., Thieme, M., Geenen, B., Tickner, D., Antonelli, F., … Tockner, K., Valdujo, P.H., van Soesbergen, A. & Zarfl, C. (2019) Mapping the world’s free flowing rivers. Nature 569: 215–221.

Jeschke, J., Lokatis, S., Bartram, I. & Tockner, K. (2019) Knowledge in the Dark: Scientific Challenges and Ways Forward. Facets 4: 423-441.

*Reid, A. J., Carlson, A. K., Creed, I. F., Eliason, E. J., Gell, P. A., Johnson, P. T., …..Tockner, K., … & Smol, J. P. (2019). Emerging threats and persistent conservation challenges for freshwater biodiversity. Biological Reviews 94(3): 849-873.

Turnbull L, Hütt M-C, Ioannides AA, Kininmonth S, Poeppl R, Tockner, K., Bracken LJ, Keesstra S, Liu L, Masselink R, Parsons AJ (2018) Connectivity and complex systems: learning from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Applied Network Science 3:art.11

Datry T, Foulquier A, Corti R, von Schiller D, Tockner, K., …. C, Zoppini A (2018) A global analysis of terrestrial plant litter dynamics in non- perennial waterways. Nature Geoscience 11(7):497-503

*Tydecks L, Jeschke JM, Wolf M, Singer G, Tockner, K. (2018) Spatial and topical imbalances in biodiversity research. PLoS One 13(7):e0199327

*Tydecks L, Bremerich V, Jentschke I, Likens, GE & Tockner, K. (2016) Biological field stations: A global infrastructure for research, education, and public engagement. BioScience 66:164-171

Zarfl C, Lumsdon AE, Berlekamp J, *Tydecks L, Tockner, K. (2015) A global boom in hydropower dam construction. Aquatic Sciences 77(1):161-170

Acuña V, Datry T, Marshall J, Barceló D, Dahm CN, Ginebreda A, McGregor G, Sabater S, Tockner, K., Palmer MA (2014) Why should we care about temporary waterways? Science 343: 1080-1081.

*Muehlbauer JD, Collins SF, Doyle MW, Tockner, K. (2014) How wide is a stream? Spatial extent of the potential “stream signature“ in terrestrial food webs using meta-analysis. Ecology 95: 44-55.

*Steward AL, von Schiller D, Tockner, K., Marshall JC, Bunn SE (2012) When the river runs dry: human and ecological values of dry riverbeds. Front. Ecol. Environ. 10(4):202-209

Pahl-Wostl C, Nilsson C, Gupta J, Tockner, K. (2011) Societal learning needed to face the water challenge. Ambio 40(5):549-553

Hölker F, Wolter C, *Perkin E, Tockner, K. (2010) Light pollution as a biodiversity threat. Trends in Ecol. Evol. 25:681-682.

Tockner, K., Pusch MT, Borchardt D, Lorang MS (2010) Multiple stressors in coupled river-floodplain ecosystems. Freshw. Biol. 55:135-151

*Tonolla D, Acuña V, Uehlinger U, Frank T, Tockner, K. (2010) Thermal heterogeneity in river floodplains. Ecosystems 13(5):727-740

Nakamura K, Tockner, K., Amano K (2006) River and wetland restoration: Lessons from Japan. Bioscience 56(5):419-429

*Paetzold A, Schubert CJ, Tockner, K. (2005) Aquatic terrestrial linkages along a braided-river: riparian arthropods feeding on aquatic insects. Ecosystems 8(7):748-759

Tockner, K., Stanford JA (2002) Riverine flood plains: present state and future trends. Environ. Conserv. 29(3):308-330

Ward JV, Tockner, K. (2001) Biodiversity: towards a unifying theme for river ecology. Freshw. Biol. 46(6):807-819

(* doctoral candidates)

Full list of articles on Google Scholar



Currently, Klement Tockner is conducting research on the manifold ecological consequences of the worldwide expansion of hydropower, on the significance of drying waters for the material balance, and on the development of sustainable and innovative management and protection strategies for water catchment areas.

Main focus

Klement Tockner is a biologist and is considered a leading international aquatic ecologist. His work focuses on the holistic study of biodiversity, floodplain and wetland ecology, and landscape ecology. In particular, his focus is on the functional interactions between hydrological, geomorphological and ecological processes, and on the development of indicators for the assessment of aquatic ecosystems.


Research foundation (DFG)

Member of the DFG Commission for Biodiversity (2014-2016)

Member of Research Panel Water Research (Fachkollegium 318; 2012- 2016)

Permanent Guest of the DFG Commission for Water Research (KOWA; 2009-2016)