Call for Papers

The Wilde Mulde project team plans to publish the results in a special issue of the International Review of Hydrobiology

Title: Revitalisation of Dynamic Riverine Landscapes – Evaluation of the Effects of Hydro-morphological Restoration Measures

Submission Deadline: 15 November 2020

Handling Editors
: Christiane Schulz-Zunkel, Elisabeth Bondar-Kunze, Carolin Seele-Dilbat, Mathias Scholz & Frank Dziock

Dynamic processes of river-floodplain ecosystems are increasingly restored to revitalise riverine landscapes. All over the world, various hydro-morphological restoration measures have been carried out over the last decades in rivers and floodplains, including the installation of large wood, bank restoration, and the reconnection of back waters. These measures were also successfully implemented along the Lower Mulde, a main tributary of the Elbe, to reactivate dynamic morphological processes, improve river-floodplain interactions, as well as to promote river and floodplain biodiversity. Here, the implementation of restoration measures was coupled with continuous scientific monitoring of the effects on biodiversity and underlying processes such as hydrodynamics and sedimentation. To date, research linking the implementation of restoration measures with scientific monitoring is scarce.

This special issue of International Review of Hydrobiology aims at providing an overview of current interdisciplinary research assessing the outcomes of different restoration measures for riverine and floodplain biodiversity as well as ecosystem functions and services of the Lower Mulde and other riverine landscapes. Further, the special issue intends to deliver basic data on different scales as a reference for future and long-term ecological monitoring, take a holistic perspective by considering sociological aspects as well as multifunctionality in riverine landscapes, as well as provide recommendations for further restoration projects and their scientific evaluation in the light of implementing nature conservation and water management needs.

The editors invite contributions with a synthetic view on how restoration measures can improve biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and how observed improvements affect multifunctionality in riverine landscapes as well as studies highlighting specific hydro-morphological restoration measures and stakeholder involvement. We invite contributions on both catchment scale and the scale of single river stretches or floodplains.

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The joint research project “Wilde Mulde” is entering its final year

Until today hydromorphologically effective restoration measures in the floodplain context have been successfully carried out. The effects of the measures were scientifically investigated in an interdisciplinary manner in order to obtain an overall view of the riverine landscape ecosystem and its functionality.

For several generations, almost all major rivers in Germany have undergone massive changes. These include shortening of the course, the fixation of riverbanks, the control of the flow through groynes as well as interventions in the water balance through dams. The removal of deadwood as part of maintenance work also changed the characteristics of the rivers considerably. However, it is precisely the vital river-floodplain ecosystems, which are linked to the alternation of flooding and low water, that provide a multitude of different habitats and are used by highly specialised animal and plant species. They are hotspots of biological diversity. They also provide unique ecosystem functions that are important for an intact environment.

At present, less than 10% of the river-floodplain ecosystems in Germany have the necessary ecological functionality. There is therefore enormous potential to increase biological diversity in Germany through restoration measures in riverine landscapes in order to improve the provision of ecosystem functions such as species and habitat diversity or water purification.

With the joint research project ‘Wild Mulde’, concrete hydromorphological measures were implemented at the Lower Mulde in Central Germany and their effectiveness on the provision of (selected) ecosystem functions was investigated.

The project aims to enable an interdisciplinary synthesis and visualize the effectiveness of restoration measures. For instance wit the deveolpment of the parameter ‘Hydrological Distance’, which is an indicator for river-floodplain connectivity and plays an important role in explaining the distribution of animal and plant species or the sediment retention in the investigated floodplains.

Furthermore, first morphological effects of the measures are becoming apparent, e.g. in the development of a sediment accumulation in the river in the area of the measure ‘restoration of a natural river bank’. This was recorded by comparative measurements of the river bed topography. This gives positive signals that the progressive river bed erosion can be counteracted by natural banks and is probably due to the fact that material breaking away from the cut-off bank is deposited again along the slip-off slope.

Further, a new gravel bank has been established on the new river wood in UG5 to such an extent that annual pioneer vegetation has already been able to settle here and habitats for e.g. the Little Ringed Plover as a breeding bird have been created.

These initial results show that degraded river-floodplain ecosystems can be successfully restored to dynamic conditions through hydro-morphological restoration measures, thereby counteracting the progress of biodiversity loss.