, Volume 704, Issue 1, pp 11–28

The WISER way of organising ecological data from European rivers, lakes, transitional and coastal waters

  • S. Jannicke Moe
  • Astrid Schmidt-Kloiber
  • Bernard J. Dudley
  • Daniel Hering


The implementation of the Water Framework Directive has required intense research in applied aquatic ecology in Europe, and thus created challenges for data management in international research projects. In the project Waterbodies in Europe: Integrative Systems to assess Ecological status and Recovery (WISER), biological and environmental data from rivers, lakes, transitional and coastal waters in 26 European countries were collated. More than one million records of biological observations were stored in the project’s central database, representing phytoplankton, macrophytes, macroalgae, angiosperms, phytobenthos, invertebrates and fish. The central database includes new data from the WISER field campaign in lakes and transitional/coastal waters during 2009–2010 (more than 6,000 biological samples from 58 waterbodies in 14 countries). The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the data collated within WISER, in order to facilitate future re-use of these data by other scientists. More specifically, the objectives are to (1) describe the data management in WISER, (2) describe the structure and content of the WISER central database and (3) share experiences and give recommendations for data management in large ecological research projects.


EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) Data management Databases Taxonomy Intellectual property rights (IPR) Metadata 


  1. Alvarez, M. C., A. Franco, R. Pérez-Domínguez & M. Elliott, 2012. Sensitivity analysis to explore responsiveness and dynamic range of multimetric fish-based indices for assessing the ecological status of estuaries and lagoons. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-012-1314-7.
  2. Angeler, D. G., R. K. Johnson, S. J. Moe & D. Hering, 2012. Cross-taxon responses to stress gradients in streams and lakes. Report and manuscript on the use of BQEs, habitats and ecosystems for detecting human-induced change WISER deliverable 6(3–2): 39.Google Scholar
  3. Argillier, C., S. Caussé, M. Gevrey, S. Pédron, J. D. Bortoli, S. Brucet, M. Emmrich, E. Jeppesen, T. Lauridsen, T. Mehner, M. Olin, M. Rask, P. Volta, I. J. Winfield, F. Kelly, T. Krause, A. Palm & K. Holmgren, 2012. Development of a fish-based index to assess the eutrophication status of European lakes. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-012-1282-y.
  4. Balsby, T. J. S., J. Carstensen & D. Krause-Jensen, 2012. Sources of uncertainty in estimation of eelgrass depth limits. Hydrobiologia, this issue.Google Scholar
  5. Beier, U., E. Degerman, A. Melcher, C. Rogers & H. Wirlöf, 2007. Processes of collating a European fisheries database to meet the objectives of the European Union Water Framework Directive. Fisheries Management and Ecology 14: 407–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beniston, M., M. Stoffel, R. Harding, M. Kernan, R. Ludwig, E. Moors, P. Samuels & K. Tockner, 2012. Obstacles to data access for research related to climate and water: implications for science and EU policy-making. Environmental Science & Policy 17: 41–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Birk, S., W. Bonne, A. Borja, S. Brucet, A. Courrat, S. Poikane, A. Solimini, W. van de Bund, N. Zampoukas & D. Hering, 2012. Three hundred ways to assess Europe’s surface waters: an almost complete overview of biological methods to implement the Water Framework Directive. Ecological Indicators 18: 31–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Borja, A., M. Elliott, P. Henriksen & N. Marbà, 2012. Transitional and coastal waters ecological status assessment: advances and challenges resulting from implementing the European Water Framework Directive. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-012-1276-9.
  9. Borja, A., E. Barbone, A. Basset, G. Borgersen, M. Brkljacic, M. Elliott, J. M. Garmendia, J. C. Marques, K. Mazik, I. Muxika, J. M. Neto, K. Norling, J. G. Rodríguez, I. Rosati, B. Rygg, H. Teixeira & A. Trayanova, 2011. Response of single benthic metrics and multi-metric methods to anthropogenic pressure gradients, in five distinct European coastal and transitional ecosystems. Marine Pollution Bulletin 62: 499–513.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Caroni, R., W. van de Bund, R.T. Clarke & R.K. Johnson, 2012. Combination of multiple biological quality elements into waterbody assessment of surface waters. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-012-1274-y.
  11. Carvalho, L., S. Poikane, A. L. Solheim, G. Phillips, G. Borics, J. Catalan, C. d. Hoyos, S. Drakare, B. Dudley, M. Jarvinen, C. Laplace-Treyture, K. Maileht, C. McDonald, U. Mischke, J. Moe, G. Morabito, P. Nõges, T. Nõges, I. Ott, A. Pasztaleniec, B. Skjelbred & S. Thackeray, 2012. Strength and uncertainty of lake phytoplankton metrics for assessing eutrophication impacts in lakes. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-012-1344-1.
  12. Clarke, R., 2012. Estimating confidence of European WFD ecological status class and WISER Bioassessment Uncertainty Guidance Software (WISERBUGS). Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-012-1245-3.
  13. Costello, M. J., 2009. Motivating online publication of data. BioScience 59: 418–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dahm, V., D. Hering, D. Nemitz, W. Graf, A. Schmidt-Kloiber, P. Leitner, A. Melcher & C. K. Feld, 2012. Effects of physico-chemistry, land use and hydromorphology on three riverine organism groups: a comparative analysis with monitoring data from Germany and Austria. Hydrobiologia, this issue.Google Scholar
  15. Dromph, K., S. Agusti, A. Basset, J. Franco, P. Henriksen, J. Icely, S. Lehtinen, S. Moncheva, M. Revilla, K. Sørensen & L. Roselli, 2012. Sources of uncertainty in assessment of marine phytoplankton communities. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-012-1353-0.
  16. Dudley, B., J. Moe, A. Schmidt-Kloiber & L. Carvalho, 2012a. Extraction of data from WISER databases. Paper Presented at the Current Questions in Water Management Book of Abstracts to the WISER Final Conference, Tallinn, Estonia, 25–26 January 2012.Google Scholar
  17. Dudley, B. J., M. Dunbar, E. Penning, A. Kolada, S. Hellsten, A. Oggioni, V. Bertrin, F. Ecke & M. Søndergaard, 2012b. Measurements of uncertainty in macrophyte metrics used to assess European lake water quality. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-012-1338-z.
  18. European Commission, 2000. Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy Official Journal of the European Communities L 327. vol Official Journal of the European Communities, 72.Google Scholar
  19. Feld, C. K., S. Birk, D. C. Bradley, D. Hering, J. Kail, A. Marzin, A. Melcher, D. Nemitz, M. L. Petersen, F. Pletterbauer, D. Pont, P. F. M. Verdonschot & N. Friberg, 2011. From natural to degraded rivers and back again: a test of restoration ecology theory and practice. Advances in Ecological Research 44: 119–209.Google Scholar
  20. Furse, M., D. Hering, O. Moog, P. Verdonschot, R. Johnson, K. Brabec, K. Gritzalis, A. Buffagni, P. Pinto, N. Friberg, J. Murray-Bligh, J. Kokes, R. Alber, P. Usseglio-Polatera, P. Haase, R. Sweeting, B. Bis, K. Szoszkiewicz, H. Soszka, G. Springe, F. Sporka & I. Krno, 2006. The STAR project: context, objectives and approaches. Hydrobiologia 566: 3–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Haase, P., D. Hering, S. C. Jähnig, A. W. Lorenz & A. Sundermann, 2012. The impact of hydromorphological restoration on river ecological status: a comparison of fish, benthic invertebrates, and macrophytes. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-012-1255-1.
  22. Hering, D., A. Borja, L. Carvalho & C. K. Feld, 2012. Assessment and recovery of European water bodies: key messages from the WISER project. Hydrobiologia, this issue.Google Scholar
  23. Järvinen, M., S. Drakare, G. Free, A. Lyche-Solheim, G. Phillips, B. Skjelbred & U. Mischke, 2012. Phytoplankton indicator taxa for reference conditions in lowland Northern and Central European lakes. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-012-1315-6.
  24. Karus, K. & T. Feldmann, 2012. Factors influencing macrophyte metrics in Estonian coastal lakes in the light of ecological status assessment. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-012-1300-0.
  25. Maileht, K., T. Nõges, P. Nõges, O. Ingmar, U. Mischke, L. Carvalho & B. Dudley, 2012. Water colour, phosphorus and alkalinity are the major determinants of the dominant phytoplankton species in European lakes. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-012-1348-x.
  26. Marbà, N., D. Krause-Jensen, T. Alcoverro, S. Birk, A. Pedersen, J. M. Neto, S. Orfanidis, J. M. Garmendia, I. Muxika, A. Borja, K. Dencheva & C. M. Duarte, 2012. Diversity of European seagrass indicators: patterns within and across regions. Hydrobiologia, this issue.Google Scholar
  27. Mascaró, O., T. Alcoverro, K. Dencheva, D. Krause-Jensen, N. Marbà, J. Neto, V. Nikolic, S. Orfanidis & A. Pedersen, 2012. Exploring the robustness of the main macrophyte-based indices developed to assess the ecological status of coastal ecosystems under the Water Framework Directive: an uncertainty analysis. Hydrobiologia, this issue.Google Scholar
  28. Mjelde, M., S. Hellsten & F. Ecke, 2012. Developing av water level regulation index for aquatic macrophytes in Nordic lakes. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-012-1323-6.
  29. Moe, S. J., B. Dudley & R. Ptacnik, 2008. REBECCA databases: experiences from compilation and analyses of monitoring data from 5,000 lakes in 20 European countries. Aquatic Ecology 42: 183–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Phillips, G., A. Lyche Solheim, B. Skjelbred, U. Mischke, S. Drakare, G. Free, M. Järvinen, C. de Hoyos, G. Morabito, S. Poikane & L. Carvalho, 2012. A phytoplankton trophic index to assess the status of lakes for the Water Framework Directive. Hydrobiologia, this issue.Google Scholar
  31. Refsgaard, J. C., L. F. Jørgensen & A. L. Højberg, 2007. Data availability and accessibility. State of the art on existing data required for modelling for research purposes and for the implementation of the Water Framework Directive. Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Copenhagen.Google Scholar
  32. Schmidt-Kloiber, A. & D. Hering, 2012. www.freshwaterecology.info - the taxa and autecology database for freshwater organisms, version 5.0. In. http://www.freshwaterecology.info/. Accessed 4 April 2012.
  33. Schmidt-Kloiber, A., S. J. Moe, B. J. Dudley, J. Strackbein & R. Vogl, 2012. The WISER metadatabase: the key to more than 100 ecological datasets from European rivers, lakes and coastal waters. Hydrobiologia. doi:10.1007/s10750-012-1295-6.
  34. Solheim, A. L., 2012. Comparison of different biological quality elements for assessment of ecological status in lakes. Hydrobiologia, this issue.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Jannicke Moe
    • 1
  • Astrid Schmidt-Kloiber
    • 2
  • Bernard J. Dudley
    • 3
  • Daniel Hering
    • 4
  1. 1.Norwegian Institute for Water ResearchOsloNorway
  2. 2.Department Water, Atmosphere, Environment, Institute of Hydrobiology & Aquatic Ecosystem ManagementUniversity of Natural Resources & Life SciencesViennaAustria
  3. 3.Centre for Ecology & HydrologyMidlothianUK
  4. 4.Faculty of Biology, Aquatic EcologyUniversity of Duisburg-EssenEssenGermany

Personalised recommendations