Seminar: Professor Thomas Hein

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The role of connectivity in river floodplain restoration


Professor Thomas Hein, Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Management, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna.


9th December 2021, (Online, via Zoom) 12 pm UK, (1 pm CET, 2 pm EET)


Rivers are vital ecosystems providing a multitude of ecosystem services that are vital for human societies. Moreover, rivers have high strategic importance for global ecological functions and biodiversity. Numerous rivers in the world, like the Danube River, are highly complex socio-ecological systems and a hotspot of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Changes in longitudinal, lateral and vertical connectivity (i.e., the extent resources and biota are routed in the system) are key drivers of change in river systems. For example, floodplains have been converted, and their area has been reduced; hydropower plants have been built on the main stem of the river and along tributaries, resulting in altered connectivity patterns. Conservation and restoration of ecosystem functions and service provisioning is, thus, an urgent task, but challenging because of the diversity of human activities and policy targets, scarcity of data compared to the complexity of the systems, heterogeneity of environmental problems, and differences in socio-economic conditions along the Danube. Therefore, in this presentation, we provide an overview of the role of connectivity at the whole river network at different spatial scales (catchment, floodplain) and present examples of how changes and management of connectivity patterns may affect ecosystem properties. In the future, emerging issues such as climate change and invasive non-native species will need careful consideration in the ecosystem management of the river and its floodplains to minimize unintended effects.


Thomas Hein, Damiano Baldan and Andrea Funk


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