EU network of mesocosms facilities for research on marine and freshwater ecosystems open for global collaboration.

Lunz Mesocosm Infrastructure (LMI)

The Lunz Mesocosm Infrastructure (LMI) at WCL hosts for our 4 mesocosm facilities, two tank systems 1A Ptacnik mesocosms and 1B Kainz mesocosms, and two flumes 2A BOKU flumes, 2B Schelker flumes. In 2018, we open for AQUACOSM Transnational Access (TA) for selected users to facilities 1A, 1B B and 2B.

WCL LMI 1A, AquaScale mesocosms (Ptacnik Lab)

Users are invited to participate during mesocosm experiment scheduled 1st June – 30th August 2018. We open TA for 210 person days that are for 2-3 groups. The experiment will address the role of connectivity for diversity and functioning of plankton communities. We will manipulate connectivity of mesocosms to natural habitats (lakes in the area). Further details can be found on the Aquascale lab webpage. 

We encourage researchers to participate by contributing in analysis of functional aspects of plankton food web ecology (microbial loop; role of MZP) as well as experts in analysis of molecular analysis.

WCL LMI 1B, LipTox mesocosms (Kainz lab)

This facility is available for TA from Jan 1st-Dec 31st, for up to two months and up to 210 person-days – e.g. 10 people for 10 days.

No specific experiment is planned yet. Manipulation of temperature and/or DOC, nutrients etc. are possible. Please contact Martin Kainz for possible collaborations.

WCL LMI 2B EcoCatch flumes (Schelker lab)

Users who are selected for TA are invited to join the Flume experiment on stream microbial inoculation within the ÖAW project Hydro-Diversity planned to run from the beginning of June to mid of August 2018.

In addition, open slots for TA users are September to End of October. Minimum required stay for users is one month, so this could be two time slots, but is most likely just one slot that is realistic (210 person-days). 

WCL LMI 2A HyTec flumes (BOKU)

No TA opening planned in 2018.

Lunz Mesocosm Infrastructure (LMI)
Legal name of organisation
WCL - WasserCluster Lunz
Organisation address

1) WCL – WasserCluster Lunz
Dr. Carl Kupelwieser Promenade 5
A-3293 Lunz am See

2) Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Management (IHG)
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU)
Max-Emanuel-Straße 17
1180 Wien

Primary contact information (PI)

1A) Dr. Robert Ptacnik
1B) Dr. Martin Kainz

2) Ao.Univ.Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Stefan Schmutz,
Dipl.-Ing. Stefan Auer

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Years of Mesocosm Experiments
1) 2012 - present 2) 2011 - present
Description of Facility

1A) WCL-Mesocosms-Ptacnik
40 land-based mesososms (320 L each); water pipes for aeration and mixing; exchangeable inner walls; app. 500 m from lake; local tab water suitable for experiments (not chlorinated)

1B) WCL-Mesocosms-Kainz
24 land-based mesososms (400 L each), temperatured controlled, aerated, temperature sensors, remote controlled

2) HyTEC
consists of two large channels (40 m length, 6 m width) fed with nutrient-poor lake water taken at different depths to vary water temperature. Peak flows of up to 600 l/s are produced to mimic hydropeaking, thermopeaking or extreme floods.
Channel size and morphology (slopes, structures substratum, etc.) is alterable, flow can be controlled, various experiments with different biological elements (fish, benthic invertebrates, algae, etc.) can be conducted in parallel (smaller sub-flumes within each large one) short-time and long-time experiments can be done simultaneously

Controlled Parameters

1A) WCL-Mesocosms-Ptacnik
Air flow; possibly shading; nutrient levels

1B) WCL-Mesocosms-Kainz
Temperature, air flow

2) HyTEC
Discharge, ramping rates of discharge, water temperature, substrate, channel morphology

Research Topics

1A) WCL-Mesocosms-Ptacnik
Role of dispersal for maintenance of diversity; diversity-functioning research in plankton communities

1B) WCL-Mesocosms-Kainz
Effects of temperature, heat waves, light, brownification on phytoplankton and zooplankton biodiversity and biochemical composition (elemental stoichiometry, fatty acids)

2) HyTEC
Hydropeaking-related effects on various aquatic organism groups (juvenile fish, macroinvertebrates and development of benthic algae) and ecosystem processes such as litter decay, primary production
Effects of thermopeaking, analyses of multiple pressures (discharge, nutrients and temperature)
Fish protection and fish guidance efficiency (experiments with a flexible fish fence)

Facility location(s)
Primary interests
Specialist areas
Photos of experiments/installations
1A) WCL-Mesocosms-Ptacnik: Land-based tanks at lake shore in Lunz
1B) WCL-Mesocosms-Kainz: Land-based tanks at lake shore in Lunz
2) HyTEC Facility: Aerial view
2) HyTEC Facility: Total view upstream direction
2) HyTEC Facility; Aerial view of adaptation for fish guidance experiments


Infrastructure (short name)
Lunz Mesocosm Infrastructure (LMI)
Installation (short name)

Lunz am See, 150 km southwest of Vienna, Austria

Coordinates / (routes, areas if non-static)
Water / environmental conditions
Depths / bottom / surface

he Lunz Mesocosm Infrastructure (LMI) belongs to WasserCluster Lunz (WCL), an inter-university research centre of the University of Vienna, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU) and the Danube University Krems. It includes 2 permanent land-based mesocosm systems (Fig. 6.10.1): 40 mesocosms holding 320 l of water each are equipped with a special port to minimize sample contact in experiments targeting dispersal limitation; 24 additional mesocosms holding 400 L each and placed next to a cabin are equipped with a filling system filtering water, a computer- controlled heating system and aerators. In addition, LMI comprises 50 enclosures (1 m diameter, variable depth 2-15 m) floating in Lake Lunz, 2 experimental river flumes referred to as the Hydromorphological and Temperature Experimental Channels (HyTEC) and the Lunz Flumes (Fig. 6.10.2). HyTEC consists of two large channels (40 m length, 6 m width) that can each be subdivided into up to 4 small flumes fed with nutrient-poor lake water. Peak flows of up to 600 l/s can be generated to mimic events such hydro- or thermopeaking or extreme floods. The Lunz Flumes consist of 6 streamside channels (40 m long, 0.4 m wide) that are continuously fed with stream water. Basic hydraulic and sediment characteristics can be adjusted and solutes such as inorganic nutrients or DOM be added.

Available infrastructure and instruments beyond the mesocosm facilities include 3 boats and 2 cars; several standard labs, a radio-isotope lab (3H, 14C); walk-in environmental chambers; an elemental analyser coupled to an isotope-ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS); GC-FID/MS for analysing fatty acids, HPLC for pigment and amino acid analysis, flow cytometer to analyse small phyto- and bacterioplankton, total organic carbon (TOC) analyser, autoanalyser for nutrients analyses; bench spectrophotometer and fluorometer; PhytoPAM fluorometer; and dissecting, bright-field, inverted and epifluorescence microscopes. Field gear and instrumentation is also available. This includes various standard sampling gear, nets of various mesh sizes to fractionate plankton, water collection tubes. temperature sensors. Equipment and gear used in the HyTEC river flumes include a fully automated discharge and water-temperature interface, data loggers, a flow velocity measurement systems, a remote-controlled (IR) video system, electrofishing devices, sampling gear, tanks for hatching and maintaining fish, etc.

Fig. 6.10.1. Two mesocosm systems at WasserCluster Lunz (WCL) in Lunz am See, Austria

Fig. 6.10.2. Experimental river flumes HyTEC (left) and Lunz Flumes (right) at WCL, Austria

Instruments / sensors / equipment

1A) WCL-Mesocosms-Ptacnik
Sampling gear; standard water chemistry; meshes for size fractionation; water pre-filtration for filling mesocosms

1B) WCL-Mesocosms-Kainz
Sampling gear, incl. plankton nets, water collection tubes, temperature gauges, heaters, aerators, computer controlled temperature systems, wooden cabin next to mesocosms Access to analyses (with costs)
Elemental analyses of C, N, S, O, H and stable isotopes, TOC analyser

2) HyTEC
Fully automated discharge and water temperature interface, datalogger, flow velocity measurement systems, remote-controlled (IR-) video system, electrofishing devices, sampling gears, several tanks for fish hatchery, etc.

Cooperation with WasserCluster Lunz: experiments (benthic algae), field equipment and laboratory-infrastructure (nutrient analyses, DOC analyses, microscopy, HPLC)

Modality of access

A total of at least 1040 person-days will be allocated to external users through AQUACOSM Transnational Access provision in years 2-4. Access to a minimum of 8 persons is offered for 40 person-days. The partly temperature-controlled mesocosms will be accessible year round during reserved time slots. Further details about Transnational Access provision at all facilities are described in WP1. Additional charges may apply to special services such as stable-isotope or HPLC analyses.

Unit of access
What is available and when
What service and support facilities are available

Services currently offered by the infrastructure: Users will have access to mesocosms office and lab space and the equipment described above. Modern guest rooms for up to 20 users are available. Ample additional lodging options exist in Lunz. Additional facilities and instruments can be made available at the universities in Vienna (2 h drive). Users of LMI will benefit from exceptional scientific experience of the local staff with aquatic mesocosm experiments, long-term data on Lake Lunz and the local streams (Lunzer Seebach), and expertise in freshwater biodiversity, aquatic ecology and biogeochemistry of the academic and technical WCL staff, which has pursued a highly active and international research programme of over the past 20 years.

Support offered under AQUACOSM: Users will have access to office and lab space, dormitories and other lodging facilities as well as equipment available at the WCL. Cooperation with local scientists is encouraged to take full advantage of their expertise and access to analytical instruments. Technical assistants at WCL will train all users prior to and during their research activities. Coordination meetings before each experiment will optimize the scientific outcome of all activities.


Some guestrooms at WasserCluster Lunz; numerous guesthouses in Lunz am See

Special rules