Austrian Committee Danube Research
International Association for Danube Research

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Expert Group IAD

Sidearm of the Danube at Rosskopf mountain
Estuary of a sidearm at Rosskopf mountain

Overview

Co-ordinator: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Georg A. Janauer

The Expert Group "Macrophytes" (EGM) was established by the Board of National IAD Representatives in 1988. All scientific and applied aspects dealing with the aquatic macrophyte vegetation of the Danube, in water bodies and riparian zones, in the main river channel and in the waters of the river corridor, as well as in the tributaries are comprised in its program. At present 16 members from nine countries contribute to the activities of the EGM.

In the period 2001 - 2005 the activities are focussed on the assessment and evaluation of the aquatic vegetation in the river corridor and on establishing a base for the monitoring under the Water Framework Directive/EU. The "Danube Project" of the EGM (www.midcc.at) is an essential part of this approach. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture (Austria). The main river, some tributaries and canal systems, and other relevant rivers in the catchment are studied. Results of a Pilot-Study (1998 - 2000) are published in a Special Issue of the Archive of Hydrobiology, Supplement "Large Rivers" (14 contributions from seven Danube countries, expected late fall 2002). The "Tisza Project", funded through the 5th Framework Program of the EU (Co-ordinator: Prof. Jolankai, VITUKI, HU. www.tiszariver.com), integrated the assessment of macrophytes as an eco-hydrological focus for indicating different types of oxbows and side channels and as a crucial group of organisms in oxbow restoration. These studies will enable the (re-)evaluation of the distribution, rareness and danger of extinction of the aquatic vegetation. The application of GIS-techniques, georeferencing all data sets, and a high spatial resolution (working scale 1:50.000; minimum length of survey units in the main river channel: 1000 metres, in all other water bodies: 50 metres)enable direct application to, and overlays with, regional and project planning and form the basis for decision making with regard to scientific, technical and political actions.

Other macrophyte related topics are: the assessment of habitat parameters to enhance the quality of decisions in river re-habilitation activities, taxonomic and anatomical studies to enhance the quality of species determination with respect to hybrids and morphological variation, and the reaction of macrophytes to hydrological, hydraulic and trophic aspects of restoration measures. The role of macrophytes in alternative sewage purification processes is also included, as far as the Danube basin is concerned.

This program is approved by the IAD boards. Intensive scientific exchange, and the contact with government administration, academies and universities alike make all activities of the EGM highly relevant to the public. They also form the basis for a successful knowledge and information transfer (KIT) among the Danube countries. With this in mind the EGM is an active element within the structures of the IAD, which will brave the challenges of our time.