Research Unit (IB) - Aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in relation to human impacts and climate change

The Hydrobiology research unit conducts research on aquatic biodiversity and the long-term evolution of the ecology of lakes and rivers in the Alpine and peralpine regions. The main fields of investigation focus on the effects of climate change, eutrophication and alterations of flow and thermal regimes on aquatic ecosystems and communities, mainly microbial, planktic and benthic.

Ecosystems studied include large lakes of the subalpine and perialpine region (e.g. Garda), and Alpine lakes (e.g. Tovel), streams and periglacial high-altitude waters. The studies are carried out at different spatial and temporal scales, including the reconstruction of ecological conditions at secular scales (paleolimnology). Field studies on aquatic environments are combined with laboratory studies aimed at characterizing the microbiota, including bioactive metabolites (e.g. algal toxins) in selected algal strains or in different cultures.

Research, aimed at the study of aquatic populations and communities by multidisciplinary approaches, is carried out using traditional hydrobiological and hydrochemical techniques integrated with innovative field and laboratory techniques (metabolomics, molecular biology and NGS, stable isotopes, high frequency data sensors, macrocosms).

Our findings have important practical implications for the definition of the role and function of aquatic biodiversity and keystone species in particular, and for the definition of solutions to a variety of problems that originate from the interactions of organisms with their environment.

Main publications

  • Bruno M.C., Cashman M.J., Maiolini B., Biffi S., Zolezzi G., 2016. Responses of benthic invertebrates to repeated hydropeaking in semi-natural flume simulations: Ecohydrology, 9, 68–82. DOI: 10.1002/eco.1611.
  • Cerasino L., Shams S., Boscaini A., Salmaso N., 2016. Multiannual trends of microcystin production in the toxic cyanobacterium Planktothrix rubescens in Lake Garda (Italy). Chemistry and Ecology, 32:5, 492-506. DOI: 10.1080/02757540.2016.1157175.
  • Flaim G., Camin F., Tonon A., Obertegger U., 2013. Stable isotopes of lakes and precipitation along an altitudinal gradient in the Eastern Alps. Biogeochemistry 116:187–198.
  • Milan M., Bigler C., Salmaso N., Guella G., Tolotti, 2015. Multiproxy reconstruction of a large and deep subalpine lake's ecological history since the Middle Ages. J. Great Lakes Res. 41: 982–994.
  • Salmaso N., Capelli C., Shams S., Cerasino L., 2015. Expansion of bloom-forming Dolichospermum lemmermannii (Nostocales, Cyanobacteria) to the deep lakes south of the Alps: Colonization patterns, driving forces and implications for water use. Harmful Algae 50, 76–87.
  • Shams S., Capelli C., Cerasino C., Ballot A., Dietrich D.R., Sivonen K., Salmaso N., 2015. Anatoxin-a producing Tychonema (Cyanobacteria) in European waterbodies. Water Research 69: 68-79.
  • Tang C.Q., Leasi F., Obertegger U., Kieneke A., Barraclough T.G., Fontaneto D., 2012. The widely used small subunit 18S rDNA molecule greatly underestimates true diversity in biodiversity surveys of the meiofauna. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109, 16208–16212.


  • CYANOCOST COST Action ES1105 (2012-2016) - Cyanobacterial blooms and toxins in water resources: Occurrence, impacts and management (EU) (N. SalmasoL. Cerasino).
  • ERASMUS MUNDUS JOINT DOCTORATE SMART - Science for MAnagement of Rivers and their Tidal systems (M.C. Bruno).
  • MetaVir-Alp (H2020-MSCA-IF-2015) - Alpine lakes benthic viral community structure and diversity: a metagenomic and ecological approach (secondment host, starting autumn 2016) (N. Salmaso).
  • NETLAKE COST Action ES1201 - Networking lake observatories in Europe (EU) (G. Flaim).
  • GEISHA - Global Evaluation of the Impacts of Storms on freshwater Habitat and structure of phytoplankton Assemblages (Fondation pour la Recherche sur la Biodiversité, and Powell Center, USA) (N. Salmaso).

Person in charge


  • Phone 0461615323
  • Mobile Phone 3357612847
  • E-mail nico.salmasoSPAMFILTER@fmach.it


Name Phone Mobile Email
ADRIANO BOSCAINI 0461615880 3357822163 adriano.boscainiSPAMFILTER@fmach.it
ANDREA ZAMPEDRI 0461615813 andrea.zampedriSPAMFILTER@fmach.it
GIOVANNA FLAIM 0461615377 giovanna.flaimSPAMFILTER@fmach.it
LEONARDO CERASINO (ResearcherID profile) 0461615880 leonardo.cerasinoSPAMFILTER@fmach.it
LORENA RESS 0461615394 lorena.ressSPAMFILTER@fmach.it
MARIA CRISTINA BRUNO (visit her ResearcherID profile) 0461615555 3386812176 cristina.brunoSPAMFILTER@fmach.it
MILVA TARTER 0461615813 milva.tarterSPAMFILTER@fmach.it
MONICA TOLOTTI 0461615256 monica.tolottiSPAMFILTER@fmach.it
ULRIKE OBERTEGGER (Orcid profile) 0461615377 ulrike.oberteggerSPAMFILTER@fmach.it