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Focus: Biodiversity

“I cannot imagine our life without biodiversity”

Researchers Christoph Vorburger and Florian Altermatt talk about the importance and state of aquatic biodiversity in Switzerland and Eawag’s commitment to conserving natural biodiversity. To the interview

Foto: Peter Penicka, Eawag

Photo: David Witte/Shutterstock

Lake Constance in a state of change
Rising temperatures, invasive species and other factors have changed the composition of species in Lake Constance over the last century. Researchers are trying to understand how this could have happened and what it means for the lake.

Foto: VAW, ETH Zürich

Flood protection for aquatic organisms
The extent to which river widening as part of restoration measures improves potential refugia availability for organisms living in a watercourse and thereby protects biodiversity depends crucially on the supply of bedload.

Foto: Parlamentsdienste 3003 Bern

Why biodiversity policy has yet to get off the ground
Whether a hydroelectric power plant is built, a pesticide is banned or a moor is placed under protection – a wide variety of political decisions have an impact on biodiversity. But does biodiversity play any role at all in such decisions?

Foto:  Jonas Steiner, Eawag

Discover the underwater world
Our lakes, rivers and streams are teeming with the smallest creatures, plants and bacteria that are barely visible to the naked eye, if at all. An underwater camera makes it possible to observe and identify the species of these creatures in real time.

Fotos: Denis Copilaş-Ciocianu, Teo Delić

The underground as a haven for biodiversity
Europe has relatively low biodiversity compared to most other continents because many species became extinct during the ice ages. In subterranean ecosystems, however, which were shielded from climatic turbulences, a great diversity of ancient species were able to survive.

Foto:  Max Maurer, Eawag

Water plays a key role in reducing urban heat
Heatwaves and heavy local rainfall will increase with climate change, pushing traditional urban drainage systems to their limits. These problems can be addressed using the blue-green infrastructure approach. With careful planning, solutions of this kind can also increase biodiversity.

Foto: Yinyin Ma, ETH Zürich, Eawag

Microbial biodiversity has a new dimension
Microbes self-organise to grow into fascinating and complex patterns. The diversity of these patterns depends on a previously unknown factor, as researchers at Eawag have discovered. This might re-define how we view the concept of microbial biodiversity.

Foto: Nicole Bongni

Aquatic life underground
 Groundwater is also an ecosystem, but little is known about the biodiversity underground. Eawag researchers have now documented the diversity of life in Swiss groundwater in a pilot study – and discovered previously unknown species of amphipods in the process.

Measuring Biodiversity with Environmental DNA
 The analysis of DNA fragments and their assignment to individual species – an increasingly well‑established approach – is transforming biodiversity assessment. Samples collected from waterbodies permit rapid biomonitoring of aquatic ecosystems. However, environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis is not without pitfalls. For this reason, guidelines for practitioners have now been developed by a group of experts – including Eawag scientists – coordinated by the Federal Office for the Environment. These guidelines, covering the whole process from sampling to data interpretation, should help to ensure that eDNA applications produce reliable results.
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Here you will find continuously updated news, events, scientific publications, publications for practitioners, current research projects and Eawag experts on the topic of biodiversity.

Conference of the Swiss Biodiversity Forum

26 June - 1 July 2022
World Biodiversity Forum 2022
For researchers, practitioners and societal actors
Davos & Online

In our Agenda you will find further events of Eawag.

Report by Swiss Biodiversity Forum and Swiss Academy of Sciences (in German and French)

Fact sheet by Swiss Biodiversity Forum and Swiss Academy of Sciences (in German and French)

Fact sheet by Swiss Biodiversity Forum and Swiss Academy of Sciences

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Eawag: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology

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