Department of Limnology and Biological Oceanography


news from the Department of Limnology and Bio-Oceanography:



 Thesis topic: Functional patterns of shallow macrozoobenthic communities in a high Arctic fjord (79° N)

The aim of this study is to explore the biological trait patterns of macrozoobenthic communities in the Kongsfjorden, Spitsbergen, in varying distance to the Kongsbreen glacier (Kędra et al. 2011). This master thesis is based on the cooperation with Dr. Monika Kędra from the Institute of Oceanology Polish Academy of Sciences (IOPAN) in Sopot, Poland, and involves a research visit at the Baltic Sea (funding available). The main part will be conducted in Vienna under the supervision of Prof. Monika Bright and Dr. Renate Degen.

Requirements: Curriculum Ecology and Ecosystems (066 833) or Zoology (066 831). Successful completion of VO ‘Meereskunde’ and PP ‘Einführung in die Fauna und Flora mariner Lebensräume‘. Additional zoological training and basics in (multivariate) statistics and R will be beneficial.

For further information, please send an email.

Aaron Neptun prize


Congratulations: Aaron Lechner was one of the award winning persons of this year´s Neptun prize in the category “WasserFORSCHT”, for his work dealing with plastic particle transport in the River Danube. The Netpun price is the Austrian environment – and innovation price for topics dealing with water. The price was funded in 1999, in order to indicate the role of the resource water for life, environment, economy, art and society. Since then, the price is granted every two years at the world-water day (March 22; see here)

MSc thesis available at the Division of Bio-Oceanography

Thesis topic: Does cryptic carbon transfer by autotrophic Thaumarchaeota support

                 heterotrophic metabolism in the deep oceanic water column?



Heterotrophic deep sea prokaryotes are believed to rely on organic matter that is produced in the sunlit surface ocean by phytoplankton and consecutively transported into deeper water layers. However, less than 1% of the organic matter produced reaches the bathypelagic (> 2000m depth), making organic carbon a limited resource in the deep ocean. We hypothesize that autotrophic Thaumarchaeota play an important role as “secondary producers“ of organic carbon and thus supporting heterotrophic metabolism in deep water layers.

Project outline:

The project includes cultivation of established Thaumarchaeota cultures as well as exo-metabolite extraction and incubation experiments. Field work will be carried out in Banyuls, France between 26 June – 8 July. Carbon respiration/incorporation rates will be determined and active bacterial communities will be analyzed using stable isotope probing and amplicon sequencing.

For further information, please send an email


MicroPlastics Public Showcase

Schwimmende Sackerl, angespülte Flaschen, zerriebenes Altplastik im Wasser und an Stränden: Unser Kunststoffmüll reichert sich als Treibgut oder in Form winziger Plastikteilchen

(„Mikroplastik“) an den Ufern unserer Flüsse, in Sedimenten und in den Ozeanen an. Forscher versuchen, die Dimension des Umweltproblems zu klären. Ist Plastiktreibgut nur ein ästhetisches

Problem oder eine reale Gefahr? Spielt Mikroplastik eine Rolle als Vehikel für Schadstoffe und Krankheitserreger? Wie sollten Politik und Gesellschaft auf die Gefahren reagieren? Und gibt es Lösungen ohne Plastik?

Dienstag, 24. Jänner 2017, 19:00 Uhr
Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, Obere Kuppelhalle
Maria-Theresien-Platz (Haupteingang), 1010 Wien

Attached you will find the announcement flyer.

Reinhard Liepolt award

Aaron Lechner received the Reinhard Liepolt award from the „Österreichisches Komitee Donauforschung - Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft Donauforschung“, for his scientific work within the framework of his PHD thesis „ Dispersal and drift characteristics of young fishes, especially Chondrostoma nasus (L.), in running waters”. The award is assigned to special achievements in the field of limnological research on the River Danube and its corridor. The ceremony took place during the annual conference of the “Deutschen Gesellschaft für Limnologie und der SIL Austria” which was hosted by the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in September in Vienna, Austria.

Bernhard Zens won a renowned price

On 23.11.2016. Bernhard Zens won the  "Ferry-Starmühlner-Preis zur Förderung der Forschung an Süßwasserfischen in Österreich“ price which is granted by the „Haus des Meeres“. Within his master study „Linking Behavior and Hydraulics in Riverine Fish Larvae: Rheoreaction and Movement Patterns under different Flow Conditions“  he showed that the drift of fish larvae in rivers cannot be considered as passive particles, they are clearly able to influence their dispersal by active behavioral components.(l. to r.: Daniel Abed-Navandi, vice director; Bernhard Zens; Jörg Ott, chairman of the board)

Hans and Lotte Hass Award for Marine Conservation

The "Hans and Lotte Hass Award for Marine Conservation" was granted to Michael Stachowitsch from the department and his team  for "Conservation of sea turtles and their habitats in Turkey", a long-term project in the framework of a university field course. The ceremony took place in the Aqua Terra Zoo (Haus des Meeres) in Vienna on 17 November 2016 (l. to r.: Sabrina Wagner, tutor; Daniel Abed-Navandi , vice director; M. Stachowitsch; Jörg Ott, chairman of the board; Marie Lambropoulos, co-lecturer)



We would like to cordially invite you to the upcoming workshop "LET'S TALK ABOUT SYMBIOSIS" on THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 24TH in the DIVISION OF MICROBIAL ECOLOGY (DOME) SEMINAR ROOM.

The workshop is an initiative of the Symbiosis’ Research Focus of the University of Vienna and aims to gather students, postdocs, and faculty interested in symbiosis research in an informal one-day meeting.

As usual, besides oral presentations, we will provide time for discussion, a lunch buffet and coffee breaks.

To participate, please register by emailing here not later than November 17.

If you wish to give an oral presentation, please include the title of your talk.

Attached you will find the announcement flyer.


review on Patterns and processes in the drift of early developmental stages of fish in rivers published

“Patterns and processes in the drift of early developmental stages of fish in rivers: a review” a new publication by Aaron Lechner and co-workers has been published in Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries:


Current-mediated downstream dispersal by the early developmental stages of fish in rivers is a common phenomenon. Knowledge of patterns and processes in the dispersal, or ‘drift’, of young fishes provides important information on spawning location and spawning success, habitat use, movement paths and flow-ecology relationships more generally, all of which are critical for effective river conservation and management. But despite the importance of such information, our understanding of the patterns and processes of the drift of the early life stages of riverine fishes is limited. Furthermore, riverine fish drift research has tended to occur in isolation from movement studies of other organisms, limiting its integration with higher level concepts and theory. This manuscript reviews the literature on the dispersal of young fishes in running waters. Relevant studies from all climatic zones and geographical regions are investigated, with particular attention given to the types and life history stages of fishes that drift and the seasonal and diel patterns of drifting. We then consider how fish enter the drift and their mode of drifting, attempting to reconcile a long-running discussion, under what we call the ‘active–passive conundrum’. We argue that, aside from eggs, the early stages of fish are not exclusively either passive or active drifters, but usually a mixture of the two, which we term ‘actipassive’ drift. Finally, we evaluate existing knowledge in the context of a general conceptual framework for movement ecology, identifying gaps in our understanding of the roles of internal state, navigation capacity, motion capacity, external factors and internal factors in influencing the dispersal process.


Full text available here

Paper which shows that hydraulics is a key driver of microbial life in streams and rivers published

A recent publication, which shows that hydraulics is a key driver of microbial life in streams and rivers, has been published by Robert Niederdorfer and co-workers in nature Microbiology


Small-scale hydraulics affects microbial behaviour at the cell level1, trophic interactions in marine aggregates and the physical structure and function of stream biofilms. However, it remains unclear how hydraulics, predictably changing from small streams to large rivers, impacts the structure and biodiversity of complex microbial communities in these ecosystems. Here, we present experimental evidence unveiling hydraulics as a hitherto poorly recognized control of microbial lifestyle differentiation in fluvial ecosystems. Exposing planktonic source communities from stream and floodplain ecosystems to different hydraulic environments revealed strong selective hydraulic pressures but only minor founder effects on the differentiation of attached biofilms and suspended aggregates and their biodiversity dynamics. Key taxa with a coherent phylogenetic underpinning drove this differentiation. Only a few resident and phylogenetically related taxa formed the backbone of biofilm communities, whereas numerous resident taxa characterized aggregate communities. Our findings unveil fundamental differences between biofilms and aggregates and build the basis for a mechanistic understanding of how hydraulics drives the distribution of microbial diversity along the fluvial continuum.

Full text available here

Guest Lecture by Eric Achterberg, Helmholtz centre for ocean research, kiel, germany

Title: A story of the oceans, phytoplankton, trace elements and carbon.

November 29th, 2016, 4:00 pm, Lecture Hall 2, UZA I, Althanstrasse 14.


You may also download the flyer as a pdf file.


East African Soda Lakes - book recently released (Editor Michael Schagerl, Springer publishing house)

This compendium covers various aspects of soda lakes from development over organisms to uses and threats. It provides an ideal introduction of these ecosystems provides reviews and recent findings of the unique East African soda lakes, summarized by authoritatives from various scientific disciplines provide new insights into soda lake research. Around 140 figures including many color photo-plates invite the readers to dip into the fascinating lakes.

Available here

Paper on aquatic methane dynamics in a human-impacted river-floodplain of the Danube River published

A publication on aquatic methane dynamics in a human-impacted river-floodplain of the Danube River was published by the Peduzzi-lab in Limnology & Oceanography.


Although the importance of hydrological events has been recognized, the effect of flooding on CH4 concentrations and emissions from European, human-impacted river-floodplains is largely unknown. This study evaluated aquatic concentrations and emissions of CH4 from a highly modified, yet partly restored river-floodplain system of the Danube near Vienna (Austria).


Authors: Sieczko, A., K. Demeter, G. Singer, M. Tritthart, S. Preiner, M. Mayr, K. Meisterl & P. Peduzzi (2016).


Full text available here

Paper on Network-Scale Carbon Dioxide evasion of pre-alpine streams published in Limnology&Oceanography

A paper on Network-scale CO2 evasion authored by Jakob Schelker and Co-Authors has been published in the journal Limnology and Oceanography.


Schelker, J., G. A. Singer, A. J. Ulseth, S. Hengsberger, and T. J. Battin (2016). CO2 evasion from a steep, high gradient stream network: importance of seasonal and diurnal variation in aquatic pCO2 and gas transfer. Limnol. Oceanogr. DOI:10.1002/lno.10339.


Link to article.

paper on the drift of early life stages from two fish
families of high ecological concern published in

David Ramler, Harald Ahnelt, Hans Leo Nemeschkal & Hubert Keckeis 2016.
The drift of early life stages of Percidae and Gobiidae (Pisces:
Teleostei) in a free-flowing section of the Austrian Danube.

Hydrobiologia DOI 10.1007/s10750-016-2845-0


Link to article

The microbiome of coral surface mucus is decisive for coral health

In a recently published paper in the ISME Journal, our former MSc student Bettina Glasl and PostDoc Pedro Frade, both now at AIMS, Townsville, Australia, describe the microbial community composition in the mucus layer of several coral species. This research highlights the decisive contribution of microbes associated with the surface mucus layer of corals to the health and homeostasis of their hosts.


Full text available here:


Bettina Glasl, Gerhard J Herndl and Pedro R Frade (2016) The microbiome of coral surface mucus has a key role in mediating holobiont health and survival upon disturbance. The ISME Journal 1-13; doi:10.1038/ismej.2016.9

Seminar series Program online


The new program for the summer seminar series 2016 is online.

More information can be found here.

Manuela Trobej won the Algological studies prize

Manuela Trobej (center) of Michael Schagerl´s Team Phycology won the Algological studies prize for the best master talk at the Phycology meeting in Leipzig (Germany). Title: Island in the landscape – travertine springs and their algal communities

Foto: Kerstin Hoef-Emden


Aquatic Viruses and Global Climate Change

A recent chapter by Peter Peduzzi summarizes the current state of research in the new book “Climate Change and Microbial Ecology: Current Research and Future Trends”, edited by J. Marxsen, Caister Academic Press (; March 2016


The viral component in aquatic systems clearly needs to be incorporated into future ocean and inland water climate models. Viruses have the potential to influence carbon and nutrient cycling in aquatic ecosystems significantly. Changing climate likely has both direct and indirect influence on virus-mediated processes, among them an impact on food webs, biogeochemical cycles and on the overall metabolic performance of whole ecosystems. Here I synthesize current knowledge on potential climate-related consequences for viral assemblages, virus-host interactions and virus function, and in turn, viral processes contributing to climate change. There is a need to increase the accuracy of predictions of climate change impacts on virus-driven processes, particularly of those linked to biological production and biogeochemical cycles. Comprehension of the relationships between microbial/viral processes and global phenomena is essential to predict the influence on as well as the response of the biosphere to global change.

New paper in PLoS ONE

We published a new paper on the inhibition of bacterial growth by the trophosome of the giant deep-sea tubeworm Riftia pachyptila.


Julia Klose, Karin Aistleitner, Matthias Horn, Liselotte Krenn, Verena Dirsch, Martin Zehl, Monika Bright: Trophosome of the deep-sea tubeworm Riftia pachyptila inhibits bacterial growth Endosymbionts escape dead hydrothermal vent tubeworms to enrich the free-living population. PLoS ONE 11(1): e0146446. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0146446


The giant deep-sea tubeworm Riftia pachyptila lives in a mutualistic association with the chemoautotrophic gammaproteobacterium Cand. Endoriftia persephone, harbored in the host’s trophosome. Symbiont transmission is horizontal in each host generation. Escape of symbionts happens after the host dies. Surprisingly, no microbial fouling was found in degrading trophosome tissue. In high-pressure incubation experiments we could show, the antimicrobial effect of the tubeworm’s trophosome. Mainly Gram-positive bacterial strains were inhibited in growth. We could identify lysophospholipids and free fatty acids, well known antimicrobial and anitfouling substances by a liquid chromatography-mass spectrometric analysis. As a result of tissue autolysis, the abundance of the free fatty acids increased with time and correlated with an increased growth inhibition of two bacterial strains. After death, the host cannot provide nutrients to the chemoautotrophic symbiont. Therefore, it is tempting to speculate that under post mortem host conditions, Endoriftia switches to a heterotrophic life style to feed on the dead host until it escapes.


Renate Degen received the three-year Hertha Firnberg grant from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) to study the functions of macro- and megabenthic communities in the Arctic Ocean. While in recent years some information was gathered about the structural variability of Arctic benthos, information on the functional variability is currently still lacking. The aim of this project is to fill these knowledge gaps by means of a pan-Arctic, integrated approach, including i) the analysis of benthic functioning on Arctic shelves and basins and along a shelf-slope-basin gradient in the Eurasian and the Amerasian part of the Arctic, ii) the identification of functions and regions most susceptible to changes, and iii) the prediction of benthic ecosystem functioning in a future, seasonally ice free Arctic Ocean.