Ökologie von Wildflusslandschaften – am Beispiel des Forschgungsprojektes „Fiume Tagliamento“ (Friaul, Italien)


Type: Link Language: English Author: Klement Tockner, Nicoletta Toniutti

What delivers biodiversity in riverine landscapes? Lessons from the
Tagliamento Project

Riverine landscapes are particularly distinct systems because of their open link
to adjacent ecosystems, their interface position between land and water, and the
constraints that hydrological and morphologic dynamics place on their flora and
fauna. Most riparian ecosystems are also topographically unique systems
occupying the lowest position in the landscape, thereby integrating upstream
catchment-scale processes.

Braided rivers, once keystone ecosystems in the Alps, are among the most
endangered systems world wide. The Fiume Tagliamteno in NE Italy, with its 60
km long braided corridor, is a unique system remaining in the Alps. It offers the
rare opportunity to investigate natural processes at a scale that can be studied
almost nowhere else in Europe. Along the Tagliamento, we can witness in situ
dynamic processes such as the formation of islands and the avulsion of

Six years ago, EAWAG/ETH started an interdisciplinary research project along
the Tagliamento. The main goal was to tackle a challenging topic in ecology: the
development of principles for guiding the sustainable management of riparian
ecosystems. The key question was: What delivers biodiversity and
biocomplexity along dynamic river corridors? In my presentation, I will discuss
lessons that we can draw from our observations along the Tagliamento. Specific
emphasises will be (i) on the role of large wood in delivering biocomplexity, (ii)
on the relative contribution of individual habitat types to corridor biodiversity, and
(iii) on the complex linkages between aquatic and terrestrial communities.
Finally, I will underpin the importance of the Tagliamento as a model and
reference ecosystem for the Alps. Today, the Tagliamento is a highly threatened
landscape. Its future conservation and sustainable management will therefore
be a benchmark for the European Water Framework Directive (WFD) and for the
Commission for the Protection of the Alps (CIPRA). It is clear that if we are not
able to protect our last semi-natural rivers, the discussions on restoration
projects remain relatively useless.

Keywords: research, deadwood

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