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

Lunz Mesocosm Infrastructure (LMI)

WCL LMI 1A, AquaScale mesocosms (Ptacnik Lab)

Mixotrophy under future climatic conditions: Studying the effect of increasing inputs of allochthonous carbon and rising water temperatures on the microbial food web, particularly focused on mixotrophic protist. Project lead: Robert Fischer & Robert Ptacnik

Approved TA-users are invited to participate during mesocosm experiment scheduled 1st June – 31th July 2019 (the schedule is open for adjustments, depending on applications). We open TA for up to 150 person days that are for 2-3 groups. Our facilities consist of 40 land-based mesocosms with 320 L each.

Experimental manipulation could include manipulation of light, nutrients, and water temperature. We invite interested researchers to develop project ideas together with us, esp. regarding the following research idea, see also here:

  • Functional diversity of phytoplankton and mixotrophy: Our lab has a special interest in mixotrophy and its implications for the pelagic microbial food web. Mixotrophic protists have been identified as key bacterivores in lakes (and oceans), especially in oligotrophic systems, such as Lake Lunz. The apparent prevalence of mixotrophic protists in the field contrasts our current understanding about their impact on microbial food web dynamics and carbon and nutrient cycles. Moreover, changes to aquatic environments due to global climate change, such as rising water temperatures and increasing input of terrigenous dissolved organic carbon, are likely to promote the growth of mixotrophic plankton.

WCL LMI 1B, LipTox mesocosms (Kainz lab)

Our 24 heatable mesocosms (400 L each) are open for use from January 1 – December 31, 2019.
Jun 1 – Aug 31, 2019. JOMEX experiment (linked to JRA in AQUACOSM WP9): Effects of climate change on contaminants in the planktonic food web: assessing the role of temperature and DOM on mercury (THg and MeHg) allocation in 24 land-based mesocosms. Project lead: Martin Kainz.

We open TA for up to 150 person days that are for 2-3 groups.

Experimental manipulations will include different levels of terrestrial carbon additions (browning effect simulation) and water temperatures. We invite interested researchers to develop project ideas together with us in one of the following fields:

  • Plankton response to toxic exposure: we are interested in the effects of heavy metals, mercury in particular, and Microplastics on bioaccumulation dynamics and plankton life history traits. We plan to conduct experiments at different carbon levels (‘browning’) and water temperatures to simulate contamination effects under different climate change scenarios.

Before/after this period the facility can be made available for experiments suggested by users.

WCL LMI 2A, HyTEC flumes (BOKU)

No opening for TA planned in 2019.

WCL LMI 2B, EcoCatch flumes (Schelker lab)

Planned experiments on microbial inoculation of Biofilms and microbial establishment
See link for the ongoing research project:

We intend to open TA for up to 150 person days that are for 2-3 groups, if the actual proposal is funded.

People/Number/Type: Needed to prepare: 5-7 people for 1-2 weeks; to run only 2 people needed. Cleanup needs 5-7 people for one week again.

Years/Time/Season: Experiments possible during frost-free season; May to October. Common duration shall be a minimum of 4-6 weeks, as biofilm needs 2-3 weeks to mature, depending on the question.

Link to website:

Contact: Dr. Jakob Schelker, University of Vienna,

Information on the flumes can be found here:

As well as on the factsheet.

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

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

2B) Dr. Jakob Schelker WCL / University of Vienna

1) Please login or register to view contact information.2) Please login or register to view contact information., Please login or register to view contact information.

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

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

2B) EcoCatch Flumes

The EcoCatch flumes, also named the ‘Lunzer Rinnen’ consist of 6 streamside experimental flumes of 40m length in which replicated streams can be simulated. The flumes can be used in two operational modes, in flow-through mode with raw stream water to all flumes, or in recirculation mode, with separate recirculation for each flume. A fact-sheet can be found here.

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)

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)

2B) EcoCatch Flumes
Discharge (0 to ~7,5 L/s per flume), flow velocity, water level, slope, bed structure/ sediment composition, biofilm age (often co-variable), light/shading, nutrient status, additions of nutrients, DOM, soil etc. possible. Potentially water temperature can also be modified.

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
2A) HyTEC Facility; Aerial view of adaptation for fish guidance experiments
2B) EcoCatch Flumes, view from the header tank before adding sediment for an experiment.


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

The 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,

Twoexperimental river flumes referred to as the Hydromorphological and Temperature Experimental Channels (HyTEC) and the EcoCatch 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 EcoCatch 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

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)

2B) EcoCatch Flumes

Measurements of temperature, light and O2 dynamics etc. in-situ. Instrumentation includes a system so measure full high frequency (1h values) DOC, NO3, COD, Turbidity etc. from DOM absorbance spectra (Scan:::Spectrolyser probe), for all 6 flumes plus the inlet. Other in-situ probes can be added. Tiles can be added for biofilm study. Small Hut for sample preparation. Lab analysis at WCL.

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