Freshwater Information Platform

About freshwaterecology.info

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:

  • Selection of experts for the individual taxagroups: acknowledged and approved national and European experts were selected for checking the taxalist regarding species validity, species nomenclature and synonymy (see  Other taxonomic experts).
  • Selection of responsible persons for the national checklists: from each partner country one person was selected responsible for gathering the national distribution data of the species; in cases of restricted information availability, only operational taxalists were integrated into the database.
  • Compiling the database: the data were compiled into a MS Access database, using the proofed structure of the Austrian computer software ECOPROF ( www.ecoprof.at).
  • Compiling the autecological information: as a first base ecological classifications from the Fauna Aquatica Austriaca (Moog (ed.), 1995), the Bavarian List (Schmedtje & Colling, 1996) and other national existing lists were used; these classifications were amended by some ecological classifications for selected species by project partners and experts.
  • The autecological data were number coded using a 10 point, a single category or a presence/absence assignment system (depending on the ecological parameter). For further information about the coding systems see Abbreviations.

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:

  • Extension of the national checklists for macro-invertebrates: for the countries Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, Norway, Romania, Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine specific taxagroups were added.
  • Ecological parameters: parameters that might be sensitive to direct or indirect impacts of climate change were added to the database. This information was compiled for selected invertebrate groups: Trichoptera (caddisflies), Plecoptera (stoneflies), Ephemeroptera (mayflies) and Chironomidae (non-biting midges).
  • Fish data: country and catchment distribution of fish as well as ecological parameters originating from the FAME ( http://fame.boku.ac.at) and EFI+ ( http://efi-plus.boku.ac.at) projects were added.
  • Diatom data: taxa names originating from OMNIDIA, as well as ecological parameters from different sources were added.

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:

  • The Taxa Entry Tool - TET to enable creating standardised taxalists throughout Europe for all the organism groups. The Taxa Entry Tool is available via the menu ( Taxa Entry Tool).
  • The Taxa Validation Tool - TVT to enable validation of taxalists for all the organism groups. The tool also includes an export function for ecological parameters. The Taxa Validation Tool is available via the menu ( Taxa Validation Tool).

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

  • Cooperation with Henri Tachet and inclusion of his important trait database into freshwaterecology.info to make it easily accessible for all interested scientists (Tachet H., Bournaud M., Richoux P. & Usseglio-Polatera P. (2010): Invertébrés d'eau douce - systématique, biologie, écologie. CNRS Editions, Paris, 600 p.).
  • implementation of a content overview page ( Content overview)

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.

Version 8 developments

Most version 8 developments were funded by the  German Environmental Agency. New features are listed in detail  on the first page.

Access and citation

At present, there are two levels of access for freshwaterecology.info:

  • without login: for the different organism groups the taxalists can be queried; additionally the  Taxa Entry Tool (TET) can be used
  • with login: all available ecological/biological parameters can be queried; additionally the  Taxa Validation Tool (TVT) with parameter export function can be used

If you want to become a freshwaterecology.info-member please go to  Registration for your personal login. Please consult  Terms of use (citation) and  Experts for details about usage, responsible persons and correct citations.