Use of protected areas for freshwater biomonitoring - case studies in Switzerland

Christopher T. Robinson, Micheal Doering, Laura Seelen

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


The rapidity at which global landscapes are being transformed by environmental
change has revived the importance of biological monitoring. Protected areas
harbour some of the most biodiverse assemblages on the planet, typically show the least historical impacts from humans and likely represent areas showing natural patterns, process dynamics and fluctuations that can be compared with areas more directly impacted by humans, especially as the human population grows. This paper provides examples of different biomonitoring programmes in three protected areas in Switzerland, ranging from a large experimental flow program and recent land annex in the Swiss National Park, to a historical analysis of a designated floodplain of national importance. The data (1999–present) from the experimental flood study have documented substantial changes in biota that have occurred 7–10 years after the initial flood results as the system enters new ecological states. Monitoring of the land annex in the national park since 2000 has allowed documentation of temporal shifts in physico-chemistry and diatoms that were related to environmental changes
in Alpine landscapes. The analysis of historical photo’s of the protected floodplain showed the effects of earlier impacts on floodplain structure and function that are evident today. The results demonstrate the kinds of data that can be generated from biomonitoring programmes with different objectives and goals and how these data can be used to understand eco-evolutionary and ecosystem processes better in the face of rapid landscape transformation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-22
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • bioassessment
  • Swiss National Park
  • macroinvertebrates
  • diatoms
  • stream


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