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Effects of lateral and longitudinal connectivity of rivers on threatened riparian species

In the framework of the interdisciplinary project “Integral River Management”, we investigate how restoration activities can help to improve the functional connectivity of habitats for two riparian species of conservation concern. Central to our investigation is the test of two assumptions commonly made by practitioners:

Dynamische Flusslandschaft

(1)  Newly formed habitats which are located close to existing, natural habitats of the same type are colonized more rapidly by characteristic species than habitats which are situated far away.
(2) Well connected habitats host a higher biodiversity (e.g. genetic diversity) than habitats with low connectivity to others.

Case studies of lateral and longitudinal connectivity will be performed using population genetic methods. The advantage of genetic methods is that they are not alone based on landscape metrics which may be biologically little meaningful. Instead, the level of connectivity with other populations is determined directly from genetic methods. Thus, the biological relevance of realized restoration projects and of simple indicators of landscape structure will be tested.

The focal organisms are character species of dynamic riverscapes and are tightly linked to terrestrial riparian habitats – the German Tamarisk (Myricaria germanica) and the Gravel Grashopper (Chorthippus pullus).