The Institute of Hydrobiology, Biology Centre of Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, v.v.i. (public research institution) is the principal institution in the Czech Republic devoted to complex freshwater research of man-made reservoirs and natural lakes. The research portfolio includes the assessment of biotic interrelations and their interactions with abiotic factors. Limnological interactions are studied both within the waterbodies and within whole catchment. The institute performs research on different levels of interactions from the ecosystem, community, population, organismal, through cellular to molecular levels. The investigations combine regular long-term ecological research on selected Czech reservoirs, comparative and methodical studies and different scale experiments that allow scrutinizing the phenomena in different time- and space-scales. The institute applies a holistic approach from elementary chemistry to high trophic levels and societal effects on water systems. It acts as an advisory body for the assessment of the ecological potential of heavily modified and artificial waterbodies. Special investigations going beyond the investigations of lakes and reservoirs involve ponds, running waters and other aquatic environment.
The Institute of Hydrobiology was established in České Budějovice in 1990, building on the long-lasting research activities (since 1959) of the Hydrobiological laboratory of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in Prague, which was relocated to České Budějovice in South Bohemia between 1980 and 1984. The main research areas encompass water chemistry, fish biology, production processes of freshwater ecosystems, microbial processes, interactions and diversity using classical limnological approaches and novel molecular and isotopic techniques.
- Bottom-up (carbon resources and nutrient limitation) and top-down regulations of bacterioplankton community dynamics at fine temporal scales
- Species-specific algae-bacterium interactions, effects of algal-derived substrates on shaping bacterioplankton community composition
- Genomic and ecophysiological traits of major groups of freshwater Betaproteobacteria yielding their contrasting lifestyles and habitat preferences
- Specific design of phylogenetic rRNA-probes for detecting non-cultivable and understudied groups of freshwater bacteria
- Lineage-specific roles of different bacterial groups in carbon flow to higher trophic levels mediated by protistan grazers
- Ecological significance of ectoenzymatic activities in nutrient regeneration and interactions among plankton organisms
- Molecular taxonomy, ecophysiology, cultivation, characterization, and biogeography of key groups of aquatic bacteria and cyanobacteria
- Effects of extreme rainfalls on phytoplankton structure and composition along the longitudinal gradient in reservoirs
- Long-term changes in the phytoplankton in response to ecological changes and global climate change
- Polyphasic approach in taxonomic classification of cyanobacteria and detection of cyanotoxin genes and evolution of toxin synthesis in a wide variety of benthic, periphytic and soil nostocacean cyanobacteria
- Aquatic chemistry of mountain lakes and their catchments recovering from acidification and stress to forests by natural catastrophes (windthrows, bark-beetle infestation)
- Eutrophication of water ecosystems as a result of external and internal nutrient loading
- Reconstruction and modelling of historical trends in biogeochemical cycling of the macronutrients (organic carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphur) and other substances (chloride) in aquatic ecosystems
- Photochemical processes involved in the transport of macro- and micronutrients via dissolved organic matter from soils to aquatic systems
- The role of sediments and organic matter in the internal cycling of nutrients in lakes
- The environmental characteristics which can best explain the patterns of nutrient flux to waters in complex catchments
- Interactions of trophic state, fish and zooplankton in terms of influence on the species and size composition and space-time distribution of zooplankton
- Long-term changes in the zooplankton and fish of model reservoirs
- Genetic studies of the populations of the most common European hybrid complex Daphnia longispina and of their links to biotic and abiotic factors
- „Priority effect“ of newly colonized biotopes of lakes in former coal quarries and subsequent adaptations to changes caused by fish colonization
- Physiological-ecological adaptations of the most common species Daphnia galeata,
- Spatio-temporal changes in fish distribution, habitat use, activity and behaviour
- Succession and management of fish communities in artificial and heavily modified water bodies
- Top down and bottom up interactions in fish communities, feeding, food web role, biomanipulation.
- Fish population dynamics, reproduction, recruitment, exploitation and productivity.
- Climate change impact on recreational fishery.
- Applications and innovations of fish community assessment methods: acoustics, seining, trawling, gillnetting, electrofishing, telemetry, mark recapture
Facilities and capabilities
The laboratories of the Institute of Hydrobiology are equipped with instruments to perform a broad array of both field and laboratory experiments and methods, such as fluorescent microscopy, image processing, cultivation and isolation boxes, molecular and isotopic labs, analytical chemistry labs with CHNS analysers, ion chromatographs, HPLC, ICP-MS, equipment for experimental photochemical and sediment research, flow cytometer, hydroacoustic and fish sampling equipment and a fleet of small to medium sized research craft including two trawlers. The institute operates two field stations on model reservoirs.
A unique culture collection of more than 600 algal and cyanobacterial strains isolated from various planktonic and benthic sites, mainly reservoirs and fishponds, is available and open for everyone who is interested in cooperation. Similarly, a world-wide unique collection of bacteria of the genus Limnohabitans, facilitating to conduct several sound international projects, is also curated and widely exploited for research at the Institute of Hydrobiology.
The Institute of Hydrobiology is capable of providing expertise for all types of lentic waters, such as ponds, lakes and reservoirs, on:
- composition of biota and structure of aquatic ecosystems - from phytoplankton and macrophytes via bacteria, zooplankton, and zoobenthos to fish communities
- evaluation of ecological status and potential of water bodies
- assessment of water quality and sediment composition in water bodies and investigation of sources of pollution and/or origin of problems like eutrophication, acidification and toxicity
- designing sustainable ecological management of water bodies by in-lake or catchment measures
- Fish stock assessment
The staff provides academic leadership in aquatic and environment sciences at the University of South Bohemia and are engaged in advisory services on water quality and aquatic ecosystem functioning for water policy and water management. Many scientists of the Institute take part in undergraduate, graduate and doctoral teaching programmes and/or research cooperations with the Faculty of Science of the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice and the Faculties of Science of the Charles University in Prague and Masaryk University in Brno.
The Institute of Hydrobiology also offers opportunities for doctoral and postdoctoral studies in hydrobiology and aquatic ecology.
An integral part of the Institute’s activities is the organisation of scientific events such as international conferences and workshops. Scientists at the Institute provide expert opinions to national and international agencies, professional societies and grant agencies. The institute provides a number of consultancies for the water industry and governmental bodies. Researchers at the Institute also serve as members of editorial and advisory boards of international journals, in addition to being referees of peer-reviewed journals. Last but not least, the results of our research serve for raising public awareness through public presentations, photographic exhibitions and open discussions with stakeholders.