The freshwaterecology.info database contains taxonomic and ecological information and is a "living document". It was first set up for the purposes of the EU funded AQEM project ( www.aqem.de), which aimed at the development and testing of an integrated assessment system for the ecological quality of rivers throughout Europe using benthic macro-invertebrates. As the assessment system required ecological information on the taxa, it was essential to gather information on both, taxa occurrence within the project partner countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden) and ecological information on these taxa for a consistent and reliable database. The following steps were performed:
In the succeeding EU funded STAR project ( www.eu-star.at) that aimed for the standardisation of river classifications, the AQEM macro-invertebrate taxa and autecology database was extended with national checklists from Denmark, France, Great Britain, Latvia, Poland and Slovakia. Furthermore, additional ecological parameters were included.
The database was then further improved within the EU funded project Euro-limpacs ( www.eurolimpacs.ucl.ac.uk), which dealt with the evaluation of impacts of Climate Change on European freshwater ecosystems. The focus of the database work during Euro-limpacs was to compile information on parameters, which are of relevance for assessing the impact of climate change on freshwater inhabiting organisms. These cover data on ecoregional distribution (e.g., taxa in high mountain areas may be particularly sensitive), life cycle parameters (e.g., increased water temperature may particularly effect species hatching in spring), temperature preferences or current preferences (e.g., current resistance might be important, if discharge patterns will change in future). Steps within Euro-limpacs:
After that the database was mainly powered by the EU funded project WISER ( www.wiser.eu): To achieve recent European policy targets WISER has developed tools for integrated assessment of the ecological status of European surface waters (rivers, lakes, marine ecosystems) with different biological quality elements (fish, macro-invertebrates, macropyhtes, phytoplankton). Macrophyte and phytobenthos taxalists, both originating from the EU funded Rebecca project as well as ecological information regarding these two groups were added and complemented. Further, two different tools were developed:
Information about how to use these tools can be found in the help section ( How to use the database/How to use the TET and How to use the database/How to use the TVT). For detailed query explanations see How to use the database and for explanations on the terms and abbreviations used see Abbreviations.
After that three other EU funded projects, REFRESH ( www.refresh.ucl.ac.uk), BioFresh ( www.freshwaterbiodiversity.eu) and MARS project ( www.mars-project.eu) were the main money sources to keep the database alive. During these projects ecological data and information on several existing organism groups was extended. Further amendments included
The database now forms an important part of the Freshwater Information Platform ( www.freshwaterplatform.eu). Day-to-day maintenance of the database is guaranteed by the Working Group RHEOPHYLAX, Institute of Hydrobiology & Aquatic Ecosystem Management, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna.
Most version 8 developments were funded by the German Environmental Agency. New features are listed in detail on the first page.
At present, there are two levels of access for freshwaterecology.info: