AlpWater

Impacts of global change on alpine water ecosystems

AlpWater
  • Project duration: December 2020 - December 2021
  • Project status:
    Ongoing
  • Funding:
    Internal funding EURAC (Project)

Climate change and global warming as well as various forms of pollutions pose several questions about the future availability and quality of water resources.  Mountain Areas, like the Alps are not only particularly sensitive and vulnerable to all sorts of impacts, but they are highly important to downstream water resources. Hence, monitoring  and understanding of water related processes in mountain areas are essential to assess present and future (water) resources.
Within this project we aim reaching an integrated comprehension of the processes and dynamics of water ecosystems. The approach overlaps with the concept of "catchment ecology". Thus, the effects of land-use / land-cover change on water quality in river systems is still an important research question within the AlpWater-studies. Moreover, snow-melting is a key-process for headwater streams and is closely related to global warming. The analysis of their effects on the biological and chemical compartments of lotic ecosystems will be of great importance for the maintenance of the natural balance of river systems.

During the last years the interest of the international scientific community for lotic mountain ecosystems has increased considerably. Actually, mountain fresh water ecosystems belong until today to the less disturbed systems, but are threatened like other areas by human impact. Mountain ecosystems are generally characterized by rough environmental conditions, which limit the development of biological communities and increase the ecosystems’ sensibility. Thus, also small changes in environmental conditions can be revealed quickly. This enhances the importance of these areas being ideal study sites for analyzing natural modifications as well as alterations caused by human activities. Moreover, in mountain valleys, beyond individuals with a broad distribution area, also endemic organisms and species characterized by a very restricted distribution range are living.
The numerous small alpine valleys, which are often not investigated at all from the zoological point of view, thus represent ideal sampling sites for studying sensible organisms.

Research area

The study is carried out within the Rio Saldura (BZ), a perennial glacier stream and tributary of the Adige River. It is 22 km long and drains one of the driest valleys of the Alps, which represents the ideal condition to focus on effects of climate changes.  To evaluate the influence of the glacier and the longitudinal patters of biological assemblage four sampling stations have been selected at increasing distances from the source (located from 2300 m a.s.l. to 1500 m a.s.l.). The monthly samples of meiofauna have been integrated by chemico-physical analysis of the superficial as well as the interstitial water in order to correlate community composition, diversity and environmental variables.

Partner
Autonome Provinz Bozen Südtirol, Landesagentur für Umwelt, Biologisches Labor
University of Copenhagen

1 - 7
Water Survey© Eurac Research - Ivo Corrà
Water Survey© Eurac Research - Ivo Corrà
Water Survey© Eurac Research - Ivo Corrà
Water Survey© Eurac Research - Ivo Corrà
Water Survey© Eurac Research - Ivo Corrà
Water Survey© Eurac Research - Ivo Corrà
Water Survey© Eurac Research - Ivo Corrà
Project Team
1 - 6

Stefano Della Chiesa

Team Member

Projects

1 - 5
Project

Biodiversity Monitoring South Tyrol

Biodiversity Monitoring South Tyrol

Duration: December 2018 - August 2021Funding:
Internal funding EURAC (Project)

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Eurac Research is a private research center based in Bolzano (South Tyrol) with researchers from a wide variety of scientific fields who come from all over the globe. Together, through scientific knowledge and research, they share the goal of shaping the future.

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