River and Foodplain Ecology

Assisted migration of river benthic invertebrates in the Rhine-Main region

Duration:              01.11.2013 – 31.10.2016

PI:                          Prof. Dr. Peter Haase, Senckenberg

Project partners: Hessisches Ministerium für Umwelt, Energie, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz (HMUELV)
                               Hessisches Landesamt für Umwelt und Geologie (HLUG)

Summary

The aim of the project is the development of a methodological framework for assisted migration of river benthic invertebrates and to re-introduce entire benthic invertebrate communities in selected streams and rivers of the Rhine-Main region and Hesse.

In the middle of the last century, many rivers were straightened and heavily polluted, leading to a massive decrease in population sizes or even losses of several benthic invertebrate species. Although many river restoration projects were conducted and a large number of sewage treatment plants were built, the “good ecological” status, the main objective of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), is currently not achieved in about 90% of German and Hessian rivers. One reason is a lack of benthic invertebrates, which are an important part of the assessment system of the WFD, despite significant improvements in the ecological conditions of rivers. This is mainly due to limited dispersal capacities of the species.

Therefore, the successful recolonization of benthic invertebrates plays an important role in re-establishing the “good ecological status” as demanded by the WFD. The project has thus not only a pilot character, but will also be a suitable example for similar projects in other states and countries.

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