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Water Protection Working Group

The group investigates the effects of management measures on small water bodies in the agricultural landscape.
Compared to other water ecosystems, such as lakes, rivers or streams, small water bodies harbour a higher species diversity and a higher proportion of endangered species. The aim of our work is to quantify the diverse effects of different land use and cropping systems on the structure and function of small standing and flowing waters. In intensively used agricultural landscapes, these water bodies are potentially endangered by the input of pesticides and fertilisers due to their spatial proximity to cultivated areas. Therefore, strategies to protect small water bodies from agricultural substance inputs are being developed in particular. For policy advice, the group performs tasks from the National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products (NAP), especially for the protection of small waters in the NAP working group "Plant Protection & Water Protection".


The aim of our research is to achieve a better understanding of the biological and chemical interrelationships in agroecosystems. Processes that influence these interrelationships are, for example, inputs, transformation and outputs of substances. We therefore investigate the contamination of standing and flowing waters as well as near-surface groundwater with pesticide residues to describe the chemical status. As a result, we develop concepts for chemical-biological monitoring in small water bodies as well as management strategies to reduce the input of pesticides.

A special aspect is the development of scenarios and strategies for the promotion of aquatic invertebrates (e.g. insects) at the landscape level. To this end, we conduct surveys on the diversity and composition of the benthic (bottom-dwelling) invertebrate fauna in water bodies. This is supported by quantitative behavioural biomonitoring of benthic invertebrates under chemical stress. Our aim is to identify indicator species to indicate the good ecological status of small water bodies and to monitor the success of the strategies implemented.

Looking for a thesis or internship on the topic of water bodie protection?

Find out what currently is possible: ÖPV/ internships, bachelor and master theses.