Eco-AlpsWater: Innovative ecological assessment and water management strategy for the protection of ecosystem services in alpine lakes and rivers.


Inland waters account for only a few percent of the world's water resources, but they are one of the most valuable natural resources on earth. At the same time, inland waters are under severe threat from human activities. Many surface waters are affected by pollution and degradation of ecosystem functions. Regular monitoring is needed to detect changes in inland waters. The Eco-AlpsWater project has improved traditional monitoring approaches by using advanced DNA sequencing techniques.

Project description

The main objective of the European Eco-AlpsWater project was to improve monitoring of the ecological status of water bodies through the use of advanced next-generation DNA sequencing techniques (metabarcoding). A consortium of 12 partners from Alpine countries developed a new approach to analyze DNA contained in bacteria, algae and other microorganisms, or released by larger aquatic plants and animals, including fish (environmental DNA, eDNA). The distribution of certain organisms is detected by the method and is a good indicator of the ecological status of water bodies. This technique allows for rapid, improved, and cost-effective species identification and automated data processing, data storage, and information retrieval.

The method was tested and optimized in 37 lakes and 23 rivers in Austria, France, Italy, Germany, Slovenia and Switzerland. The new findings and experiences were summarized in a toolbox that will be made available to decision makers and water managers.

Benefit of the project

The Eco-AlpsWater project enables a better understanding of the ecosystems studied and supports compliance with EU bathing water directives. Through the exchange of knowledge and data with the other participating countries, monitoring methods of inland waters are efficiently further developed.

Project details

Project acronym: Eco-AlpsWater

Project management: Edmund Mach Foundation

Project management AGES: Dr. Peter Hufnagl

Project partners: 12 project partners from Europe - a list can be found on the project website

Funding: EU funding program - ETC (Interreg), INTERREG Alpine Space, Alpine Space Program Call 3.

Project duration: 04/2018 - 10/2021


Riccioni, G., Domaizon, I. ., Gandolfi, A., Pindo, M., Boscaini, A., Vautier, M., Rund, H., Hufnagl, P., Dobrovolny, S., Vasselon, V., Bylemans, J., Tang, C. Q., Salmaso, N., & Wanzenböck, J., 2022. Alpine freshwater fish biodiversity assessment: an inter-calibration test for metabarcoding method set up. Advances in Oceanography and Limnology, 13(1).

Salmaso, N., Vasselon, V., Rimet, F., Vautier, M., Elersek, T., Boscaini, A., Donati, C., Moretto, M., Pindo, M., Riccioni, G., Stefani, E., Capelli, C., Lepori, F., Kurmayer, R., Mischke, U., Krivograd Klemenčič A., Novak, K., Greco, C., Franzini, G., Fusato, G., Giacomazzi, F., Lea, A., Menegon, S., Zampieri, C., Macor, A., Virgilio, D., Zanut, E., Zorza, R., Buzzi, F., Domaizon, I., 2022. DNA sequence and taxonomic gap analyses to quantify the coverage of aquatic cyanobacteria and eukaryotic microalgae in reference databases: Results of a survey in the Alpine region. Science of The Total Environment, Volume 834, 155175.

Last updated: 09.02.2024

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