In traditional ecology, community composition and species diversity are explained primarily by environmental factors, such as light, water availability, or competition. Metacommunity ecology adds exchange between different local communities as another important factor influencing species diversity and composition. The project “eDNA analysis of vertebrate metacommunities in river floodplains” adds another important component: time. Since in riverine floodplains, the environmental factors in water bodies and the exchange between local communities regularly change over time, as both are highly dependent on the water level. Additionally, they are among the most diverse habitats in the world. Therefore, they are a perfect model system to investigate complex interrelationships correlated to time.
The project, which started in January 2021, is conducted in the floodplains along the Danube in Hungary and Austria and investigates the variability of distribution and connectivity of fish and amphibian populations. To study vertebrate floodplain communities environmental DNA will be used, an innovative method that allows detecting the entire community in water samples, including rare or hidden species that are difficult to survey using traditional methods. To increase the probability of detection, established eDNA methods will be adapted for the use in floodplaines.
The project will lead to a better understanding of the spatial and temporal composition of communities in dynamic riverine landscapes. As the investigated communities include a high number of endangered species, the results will also provide an important basis for the protection and conservation of biodiversity and will directly support the management of protected areas along the Danube.
(Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Management, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)
(Institute of Zoology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)
(Centre for Ecological Research, Hungary)
Project status: active
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