6. Research Projects

The UNESCO Chair River Culture seeks to develop research projects that deliver basics for action plans to improve the  diversity and the well-functioning of river socio-ecosystems, resulting from the fact that biological and cultural diversity in and near rivers are being lost at an enormous speed. Using the words of one of the godfathers of tropical ecology, Dan Janzen, "If we cannot set aside our personal interests, research, and development, and put our entire effort to affixing permanently some of tropical nature, then we have sold the tropics' long-term fitness for a handful of instant gratification." (D. JANZEN: The future of tropical ecology, 1985). Sadly, this has also become true for nearly all rivers of this planet. Thus, our research projects have a very strong applied approach.

Research projects by Karl M. Wantzen:

EU-LIFE Project: Conservation of the Giant Pearl Mussel in Europe (LIFE13 BIO/FR/001162) (4M€) (conservation biology, habitat management). 

LIFE project Grande Mulette Juvenile mussels M auricularia Photo by J. Soler

This project aims at halting the extinction of a rare riverine species, the Giant Pearl Mussel Margaritifera auricularia. Together with partners in the Conseil Départemental Charente Maritime and experts such as Rafael Araujo, National Museum for Natural Sciences in Madrid, Spain, and Jürgen Geist, University of Munich, our aim is to establish adequate living conditions for this species in European Rivers, deliver scientific solutions for artificial reproduction, rearing and reintroduction conditions for young mussels, and to find alternative host fishes while populations of the sturgeon are recovering. To learn more ...


 LIFE project Grande Mulette Scientifc Board meeting 17 June 2015


Subproject « Carbon farming » of the CARBIOCIAL Project. This project aims at improving carbon storage in headwater catchments of Brazilian agroscapes and thereby protect these better from agricultural impacts. To learn more ... 

Soil carbon enrichment using wood chips in the CARBIOCIAL Project


The EU regional program/Agence de l’Eau project « SIAL – Stable Isotope Analysis Loire » analyses foodwebs of the Loire influenced by an invasive species. Foodwebs are a central element of ecosystem functioning, therefore their analysis delivers excellent information about well-functioning or eventual impairment. Here, we study the impact of the invasive mussel Corbicula sp. on the foodwebs. 

Invasive Corbicula mussels filter the water of the Loire picture by Karl M. Wantzen


LeStudium consortium « Ecohydraulics and dam removal » (begins in 2016). While the numbers of dam constructions are currently skyrocketing, in some countries regional planners are beginning to reflect on how dams could be modified, better managed or removed, in order to re-establish the continuity of water, sediments, and living beings. Our project will enable 4 workshops gathering experts in the field, including UNESCO Chair partners, who will assemble and assess available information and perform experiments that help to perform dam removal and dam management in a feasible and sustainable way. 


Migratory fish such as the piraputanga in Brazil are threatened by dams.jpg. picture by Karl M. Wantzen


Network: River-related UNESCO Chairs and UNESCO institutions. We are currently establishing a network that will help to exchange information about best management practices and lecturing facilities better.