It is been around a year since Andrea and I went sampling in the Danube floodplains. I know, it is unusual to collect your research data at the beginning of your PhD, but I am lucky to be part of a unique long-term monitoring project.

Since 1993, the different teams of researchers that have been part of this project have collected samples of the benthic macroinvertebrate community. These small animals are very diverse and have been used as indicators of the good ecological status of freshwater systems.

My previous experience has been in coastal areas and I have worked for several years with sea turtles in the Costa Rican Caribbean. The species I have worked with the most, the leatherback turtles, are over 2 meters long! So working in riverine systems and with benthic macroinvertebrates has brought a lot of learning. These are very small creatures and, under the stereoscope, the samples look like a complex and fascinating mini-verse.

In my lab work I have separated the different individuals I encounter into taxonomic groups.

This has been a collaborative effort of a wonderful team of student interns, which has made the hours in the lab fly by.

Source: Peter Bader 2021

Source: Anna Lisa Shocher 2021

At this point, already in the final stretch of analyzing the samples, I continue to marvel at this mini-verse and the creatures that inhabit just a drop of water!

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Peter Bader and Pauline Maisonneuve for the hard work! Also for the work and support of the master students Peter Ehgartner, Marc Sonnleitner, and Moritz Wolf. Thank you and keep on working for protecting life in all its forms.