Welcome to the website of the Riverly research unit of the Irstea Centre in Lyon-Grenoble Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes !

RiverLy combines skills in ecology, microbiology, ecotoxicology, environmental chemistry, hydrology and hydraulics. Our researches cover multiple scales from microhabitats to large catchments and global scales.

07 July 2023

By: com

Glacier retreat impacts alpine river habitats, leaving biodiversity poorly protected

Temperatures are rising more rapidly in Alpine regions than the global average. Strongly location-specific, alpine biodiversity is particularly vulnerable to climate change because the mountain topography and weather conditions restrict opportunities for species to migrate towards the poles. It is therefore expected that the populations of alpine species will instead respond by shifting their ranges to higher elevations. By coupling models of future ice extent, glacial influence on downstream river habitats, and species ecological niches, an international team of researchers has developed a new method to identify potential future refugia for cold-adapted aquatic species. This new approach can now be used to predict future alpine biodiversity and ensure that actions relating to the adaptation of protected species offer maximum conservation potential.
In 2022, many perennial rivers across France, Europe and North America, ran dry. Where human actions, exacerbated by climate change, are the cause of such events, the hydrological and ecosystem responses may be very different from those found in naturally intermittent rivers and streams (i.e., without water for a part of the year). An international team of scientists from the European DRYvER project (coordinated by the RiverLy Unit) and the Dry Rivers Research Coordination Network (supported by the NSF) in the USA, have together been working on a comprehensive overview of the current situation for both human-induced and naturally occurring flow intermittence in rivers, examining causes, responses and implications. Their findings, published on 7 December 2022 in BioScience, demonstrate that we must develop contrasted adaptive management strategies for river networks affected by human-induced drying compared to those exposed to natural flow intermittence.
Millions of people across Europe are at risk of flood. Each year, in France, damage caused by floods cost between 650 and 900 million euros, and lives continue to be lost. The enormity of the risk posed by flooding was recognised in October 2007 by the publication of the European Flood Directive, requiring each of the EU’s member states to formulate flood risk management plans. For many years, INRAE’s scientists have used their research skills and expertise to improve understanding of the processes and events associated with inundation and to devise tools and methods to protect society from its impacts.
Ecotoxicology is an interdisciplinary field with changing contours as it responds to major challenges. A look back at the work of INRAE, a leader in ecotoxicology.