Effects of a retaining wall and an artificial embankment on nearshore littoral habitats and biota in a large Alpine lake

  • Wolfgang OstendorpEmail author
  • Hilmar Hofmann
  • Lisa Teufel
  • Oliver Miler
Primary Research Paper


The littoral zones of many Central European lakes are severely altered by lake-side retaining walls. These are suspected to impair littoral biota due to the reflection of incoming wave energy. We conducted a comparative study (armoured shore with a retaining wall and a restored shore with a wedge-shaped cobble embankment vs. a pristine shore) at a wind-exposed shore section of Lake Constance. The retaining wall had a number of significant remote effects on the littoral zone, i.e. increased near-bottom current velocities, higher bed-load transport rates, coarsening of surface sediments, reduction in phytomass density, reduction in total densities and number of taxa of macroinvertebrates as well as a significant decline in the percentages of Limnomysis benedeni Czerniavsky, 1882, Ostracoda, Corbicula fluminea O.F. Müller, 1774, Dreissenapolymorpha (Pallas, 1771) and other Bivalvia. However, the significantly affected zone had a rather narrow width of ~ 3 m. Shore restoration measures are needed to remediate negative effects of retaining walls and re-establish ecological conditions that are comparable to those of pristine shores. We recommend a more site sensitive sampling strategy, e.g. for macroinvertebrates in context with the ecological quality assessment under the European Water Framework Directive.


European Water Framework Directive Hydromorphology Shore restoration Shore reinforcement Wave exposure 



We acknowledge the valuable help of Klaus van de Weyer (lanaplan, Nettetal, Germany) who took the macrophyte biomass samples, the assistance of Boris Kiefer and his team (scientific divers) and of Martin Wessels (LUBW ISF, Langenargen, Germany) for the laser optical grain-size analyses.


This work was funded by the joint project “HyMoBioStrategie” grant number 033W021, which was granted within the framework of the BMBF (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research) funding measure “Regional Water Resources Management for Sustainable Water Protection in Germany (ReWaM)”, which belongs to the funding priority “Sustainable Water Management” (NaWaM) as part of FONA (Research for Sustainable Development).

Compliance with ethicial standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Limnological InstituteUniversity of KonstanzKonstanzGermany
  2. 2.Department of MicrobiologyRadboud UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Northwest Indian Fisheries CommissionOlympiaUSA

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