Clemens Trautwein

Dr. Clemens Trautwein

stream ecologist

Department Surface Waters Research & Management

About Me

Postdoc in  river fish ecology and river restoration

Research interests

What do river fish need the land for?

alpine headwaterThe main focus of my research is to understand process-based principles in river ecosystems. I study landscape-fish relationships incorporating riverine processes that act through a nested hierarchy of space and time. The spatio-temporal scales range from the catchment to the reach and microhabitat scale and from millennia, centuries to years, days and hours.

Human activities take place at various spatio-temporal scales and alter riverine processes that affect aquatic ecosystems. Impacts on river ecosystems are severe and through a hierarchy of process levels have an effect on the entire food web in these systems. Dams, reservoirs, channelization, water abstraction, sediment traps impede dynamic processes of the flow of water and sediments. As a consequence, fish cannot migrate to their spawning sites, gene flow is interrupted, suitable habitats are lacking, etc. For example gravel spawning fish, such as brown trout, are eco-evolutionary adapted to the pulse-dynamic patterns of alpine rivers. At a certain time of the year in their life-history they have to find a suitable place with pebbles and cobbles to place their eggs in. The gravel is the product coming from far upstream, eroded at steep hill slopes, transported with flood pulses, broken and rounded over years and centuries. Floods form and remodel gravel bars once or several times a year and therefore prepare the nursery ground for eggs and larvae.

Water management has to consider these processes and research should provide scientifically based answers for sustainable management actions. I am interested in profound knowledge exchange between science and practice.

A balance between human development and ecological integrity of aquatic ecosystems is a premise sine qua non from a scientific, political, and practical point of view . Thus, mankind fully depends from the services that intact ecosystems provide. These ecosystem services include not only provisional service we can consume. Ecosystems also regulate cycles of matter and energy, support habitat and gene pool, and shelter cultural, asthetic, and spiritual services.


My post-doctoral position is embedded within the project “Bedload and habitat dynamics“ stream substrate(Restoring bedload and floodplain dynamics in rivers) of the research program “Wasserbau und Ökologie” funded by the federal office for the environment.

The two main research foci of the project are:

  • Evaluation of management actions to (re)activate sediment transport and reestablish habitat dynamics and their ecological effects on biota
  • Ecological effects of floodplain restoration

The subproject sediment rehabilitation and fish in alpine rivers tackles three questions:

  1. What are the relationships between natural sediment regimes and their effects on fish (community, age structure, adaption, food web)?
  2. How do altered sediment regimes affect structure and function of aquatic ecosystems?
  3. Which ecological indicators allow to assess rehabilitation measures for bedload transport?

Collaborators: Christine Weber, Jakob Brodersen, Katha Lange (Postdoc)

Journal publications (find links to publications on my google scholar profile )

  • Mostafavi H., Pletterbauer F., Coad B. W., Mahini A. S., Schinegger R., Unfer G., Trautwein C., Schmutz S. (2014) Predicting presence and absence of trout (Salmo trutta) in Iran. Limnologica - Ecology and Management of Inland Waters, 46, 1–8.
  • Trautwein C., Schinegger R. & Schmutz S. (2013) Divergent reaction of fish metrics to human pressures in fish assemblage types in Europe. Hydrobiologia.(Online first)
  • Trautwein C., Schinegger R. & Schmutz S. (2011) Cumulative effects of land use on fish metrics in different types of running waters in Austria. Aquatic Sciences 74, 329–341.
  • Schinegger R., Trautwein C., Melcher A. & Schmutz S. (2012) Multiple human pressures and their spatial patterns in European running waters. Water and Environment Journal 26, 261–273.
  • Schinegger R., Trautwein C. & Schmutz S. (2013) Pressure-specific and multiple pressure response of fish assemblages in European running waters. Limnologica 43, 348–361.
  • Steel EA, Hughes RM, Fullerton AH, Schmutz S, Young J, Fukushima M, Muhar S, Poppe M, Feist BE, Trautwein C (2010) Are We Meeting the Challenges of Landscape-Scale Riverine Research? A Review. Living Reviews in Landscape Research; 4(1), URL (cited on 2014-09-01):
  • Schmutz, S., A. Melcher, S. Muhar, A. Zitek, M. Poppe, C. Trautwein, M. Jungwirth (2008) MIRR – Model-based Instrument for River Restoration. Entwicklung eines strategischen Instruments zur integrativen Bewertung ökologischer Restaurationsmaßnahmen an Fließgewässern. Österreichische Wasser- und Abfallwirtschaft, 80, 95-103.

{{ element.title }}


How does such compromised bed-load transport affect fish in terms of their feeding and habitat? And what measures can be taken to restore a river's bed-load regime?

{{ element.title }}

Curriculum Vitae

{{ || 'empty' }}

{{ element.title }}

{{ element.title }}

{{ element.title }}

This person does no longer work at Eawag. Please contact for further information.

{{ element.title }}

{{ element.title }}

{{ element.title }}

{{ element.title }}

Research Focus

Process-based principles in river ecosystems

fish ecology

food webs

habitat dynamics

fluvial geomorphology

sediment regime

{{ element.title }}