, Volume 729, Issue 1, pp 49–60 | Cite as

Ecological effects of rehabilitation measures at the Austrian Danube: a meta-analysis of fish assemblages

  • Stefan Schmutz
  • Helga Kremser
  • Andreas Melcher
  • Mathias Jungwirth
  • Susanne Muhar
  • Herwig Waidbacher
  • Gerald Zauner


Large rivers are worldwide under severe pressure and there is a lack of information on large river restoration. The present paper represents a meta-analysis of available data on river rehabilitation projects performed at the Austrian Danube River consisting of six rehabilitation projects addressing 19 sites. The overall goal was to analyse the response of fish assemblages to different rehabilitation types based on (1) morphological type (“Instream Habitat Enhancement”, “backwater Enhancement”, “extended Enhancement”), (2) length of rehabilitation measure (3) time after construction (4) applied monitoring design. Biological metrics evaluated included number of fish species and relative density, habitat guilds and Leitbild species. In total, number of species increases by 55% comparing rehabilitated with unrestored sites. The number of species of all habitat guilds is higher after rehabilitation. The proportion of rheophilic species increased and the community evolved toward a more type-specific community, according to the Leitbild. Significant differences between measure types were not detected. The rehabilitation success depends mainly on its spatial extent. Highest positive response of number of rheophilic species is achieved by a length >3.9 km. The results show that habitat rehabilitation of large rivers is effective if the spatial extent of the measure is in accordance with river size.


Rehabilitation Habitat Large rivers Fish Monitoring WFD Austria Danube 



We would like to thank E. Lautsch for his statistical support and T. Buijse and P. Roni for comments on previous versions. This article was partly supported by WISER, Water Bodies in Europe: Integrative Systems to Assess Ecological Status and Recovery (Contract Number 226273), BIOFRESH, Biodiversity of Freshwater Ecosystems: Status, Trends, Pressures, and Conservation Priorities (Contract Number 226874), and REFORM, Restoring Rivers for Effective Catchment Management (Contract Number 282656).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 43 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Schmutz
    • 1
  • Helga Kremser
    • 1
  • Andreas Melcher
    • 1
  • Mathias Jungwirth
    • 1
  • Susanne Muhar
    • 1
  • Herwig Waidbacher
    • 1
  • Gerald Zauner
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Management, Department of Water, Atmosphere and EnvironmentUniversity of Natural Resources and Life SciencesViennaAustria
  2. 2.ezb – eberstaller zauner bürosTechnische Büros für Angewandte Gewässerökologie, Fischereiwirtschaft, Kulturtechnik und WasserwirtschaftEngelhartszellAustria

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