Credit: CsZ


13 Feb 2024


magyar zászló


Securing biodiversity, functional integrity and ecosystem services in DRYing rivER networks

Rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands are among the most valuable, not to mention the most fragile ecosystems on Earth. These habitats are crucial for future of economy and for human survival as well. River networks are among the most threatened hot spots of biodiversity and they are also contribute substantially to the carbon cycle (including the evasion of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere) and they provide key ecosystem services (e.g. supply drinking water and food, climate regulation) which are essential to sustain human well-being. However, rivers and streams are threatened by climate change and increased human water use, which cause them to dry up, and the percentage of drying channels in river networks are also dramatically increasing worldwide, including in Europe. Because shifts from permanent to intermittent flow regimes represent major tipping points for rivers, with often irreversible environmental and societal consequences (including massive fish deaths and impaired water quality) we must urgently understand ecosystem processes and socio-ecological consequences of drying. However, Drying River Networks (DRNs) have received little attention from scientists and policy makers, and the public is unaware of their importance. This makes predicting how climate change will alter riverine drying patterns and affect their biodiversity, ecosystem functions and services and the consequences of such alterations for both nature and humans impossible. Consequently, there is no effective integrated biodiversity conservation or ecosystem management strategy of DRNs facing climate change.

DRYvER aims to collect, analyse and model data from nine DRNs in Europe and South America to create a novel global meta-system approach that incorporates hydrology, socio-economics, ecology and biogeochemistry in order to craft strategies, tools and recommendations for adaptive management of river networks. Working in collaboration with resource managers and citizens, the DRYvER team plans to co-develop new strategies to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change on these networks. The multidisciplinary team of DRYvER will work for 4 years to find out how climate change induced droughts directly and indirectly alter the ecosystems’ biodiversity, functional composition, physico-chemical parameters, and ecosystem functions, and through these the ecosystem services. From the results, detailed hydrological, biological, and nutrition cycle models will be created, which will be ‘upscaled’ to whole continents, and will show the extent and effects of future drying events. Based on these models, DRYvER will provide knowledge-based strategies and tools for cost-effective adaptive management of DRNs in the EU and worldwide.

DRYvER in a nutshell

  • 16 countries
  • 25 partner institutions
  • 100+ participants
  • 9 focal Dry River Networks (DRN)
  • Czechia
  • France
  • Finland
  • Croatia
  • Hungary
  • Spain
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Ecuador
  • 7 work packages
  • WP1: Hydrology
  • WP2: Biodiversity
  • WP3: Ecosystem processes
  • WP4: Ecosystem services
  • WP5: Adaptive management
  • WP6: Communication, Dissemination, Exploitation
  • WP7: Project management

The role of our department in the project

Our department bears the brunt of the project’s several work packages. The most important of these are WP6 and WP2, the former of which we lead and coordinate, while in WP2, in addition to domestic samplings, we have a key role in processing samples from all case study areas. As coordinators of the Hungarian sampling area (Bükkösdi-víz catchment), we also perform data provision, data collection and organization tasks for all working groups. Thanks to our WP6 leadership position, we also participate in the central governing body of the project, which gives us a complete overview of the project events.

Our tasks in the "WP2: Biodiversity" work package:

Sorting and identification of organisms to genus level of the approximately 700 aquatic macroinvertebrate samples from the European sampling areas of the project, and recording of data.
Image analysis based estimation of the biomass of aquatic macroinvertebrate communities based on the 700 samples.
Quantitative sampling of aquatic macroinvertebrate communities every two months (a total of 6 times) in the Hungarian sampling area with a Surber sampler on 20 stream sections, that adequately represent the characteristics of the water system. Separation of fixative samples for DNA metabarcoding analyses.
Sampling of benthic algae and biofilm in parallel with macroinvertebrate sampling for DNA metabarcoding analyses.
Environmental DNA sampling from water and sediment.
Quantitative surveying of fish communities and estimation of biomass on 20 stream sections of the Hungarian sampling area twice (in spring and autumn, an outsourced task)
Recording of biogeographical, habitat structural, physicochemical, and fundamental biological background variables in parallel with sampling. Continuous monitoring of water levels using loggers.
In addition to the University of Barcelona, which manages the work package, we work closely with the leaders of the sampling areas and the partners involved in the DNA-based processing of the samples.


Our tasks in “WP6: Communication, dissemination, exploitation” work package lead by us:

Designing the visual identity of the project: design and image elements.
Organization and operation of internal communication: development of internal communication policies, creation of a communication plan, development and operation of communication channels and tools, creation and operation of internal mailing lists, forums.
Organization and operation of external communication to non-professionals and the public: development and operation of the project website, data visualization, news feeds, integration of "Citizen Science" tools.
Promotion of the results of the project in professional circles (dissemination): website, newsletter, publications, articles, meetings, organization of and participation in conferences, organization of special sections within the latter, ensuring the appropriate "appearance" of the project.
Facilitating the exploitation of results by translating and disseminating them in a comprehensible way to stakeholders, government agencies, professional organizations, civil society organizations and interested small businesses.
For capacity building: organizing a network of Forum of Young Researchers participating in the project, organizing summer schools and Short Term Scientific Missions for early career researchers to visits project partners.
Monitoring, building databases, and creating reports on all activities related to communication, dissemination, exploitation, and capacity building.
Development of a mobile application for recording the hydrological status of streams for the "Citizen Science Network" in order to involve the non-scientific public in the data collection.
In the work package, we work in close connection with the Z5 Plus Design ltd, responsible for the technical implementation of design, marketing, communication, and promotion, and with the ERDYN consulting company, which is in charge of the project management, and with the INRAE research institute, which is also the consortium leader and responsible for data management and capacity building.

Our tasks in the other work packages:

WP1: WP1: Provision of hydrological data (together with DDVIZIG project partner) and field information, measurements, observations for the preparation of hydrological models for the Hungarian case study area.
WP3: Participation in nutrition turnover measurements and field experiments in the Hungarian sample area, additional measurements, sample collections, organization and assistance of field work of foreign partners, co-supervision of theses.
WP4: Organization and assistance of the field surveys of foreign project partners in Hungarian territories, assisting in the involvement of stakeholder partners, providing language assistance during public interviews and events.
WP5: Indirect assistance in the organization of a Stakeholder Committee (together with DDVIZIG project partner). Assisting the development of a ‘Citizen Science Network’ to involve the public by providing a mobile application (see WP6 for more details).
WP7: Participation in the work of the Steering Committee (responsible for practical management of the project) and the General Assembly (responsible for the high-level decision making), participation in project events, assistance in event organizational matters.


A #ptehidrobi DRYvER Team (from left to right): Balázs, Bernadett, Bálint, Éva, Arnold, Khouloud, Zoltán, Anita, Zsuzsa, Dorottya

Zoltán Csabai lead researcher: management, organization, professional leadership, publication, liaison with project partners
Dr. Móra Arnold taxonomic expert: coordination of the identification of aquatic macroinvertebrates, identification, biomass estimation
Pernecker Bálint DEIP manager: communication and dissemination of results and the project itself
Horváthné Tihanyi Éva lead research assistant: sample management, sample selection, management of data recording
Pap Zsuzsanna coordinator: organization, internal communication, administration
Boóz Bernadett research assistant: sample sorting, identification
Berta J. Balázs research assistant: sample sorting, identification
Hárságyi Dorottya research assistant: sample sorting, identification
Szloboda Anita research assistant: sample sorting, identification
Khouloud Sebteoui research assistant: identification

More information, news, events available at the official site of the DRYvER: www.dryver.eu