The scientific career of the Biological Station Lunz began in 1906 as a private enterprise of the then very wealthy family Kupelwieser. It is the second oldest limnological institute in Europe, if not the world (Plön is the oldest). The famous limnologist Franz Ruttner headed the station from 1908 until 1957. His basic studies and insights made the station and the lakes of Lunz a classical limnological site.
In the seventies, a major change occurred, scientifically as well as in the administrative organisation. Since 1924 the station had been run by the non profit organisation Verein Biologische Station Lunz, founded by the German Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft. In the year 1970, the Biological Station Lunz became a department of the Institute for Limnology, founded by the Austrian Academy of Sciences. In 1977 the research concept of the station changed from lake to running water limnology, following the scientific trend and the necessities of a sustainable usage of water resources.
Although it is a small institute, the enormous possibilities of the Lunz area have enabled us to achieve some fascinating results:
- The combination of the N2-freeze core technique with in situ electro positioning is the first method to achieve quantitatively sound faunal samples in gravel sediments.
- Detailed studies of organic matter imports and in-stream dynamics have revealed the important and central role of biofilms in stream ecosystems.
These and many other studies are facilitated by an open air laboratory on the natural, second order gravel stream Oberer Seebach, only 300 meters from the laboratory, close to its inflow to the Lunzer Untersee. The 20km2 sub-alpine catchment of this stream is almost entirely natural and uninhabitated. The laboratory is fully equipped for both physical and chemical (organic) analyses of sediment and for faunal studies. There are extensive library, computing, video and workshop facilities. The inn next door is another classical limnological site with drawings of plankton around the walls. More details can be found in our homepage: www.bsl.oeaw.ac.at.
Six or seven years ago, there were discussions about shifting the Biological Station Lunz from the Austrian Academy of Sciences to another organisation and in early 1993 negotiations began between the Ministry for Science and Research, the Universität fár Bodenkultur and the Austrian Academy of Sciences. In the autumn, negotiations were abruptly ended. The Secretary General of the Academy informed the staff that the academy was not planning to part with the Biological Station Lunz in spite of the rumours. The letter said that, “….in the forseeable future the Austrian Academy of Sciences is neither intending to reduce the size nor to close the Biological Station Lunz…”
Following this, the budget was not cut in spite of government economies, major repairs were carried out and the station now has a computer network and new peripherals, designed for future work. Despite this, in January 1997, the President of the Academy informed the audience of the symposium, Limnology in Austria: situation and perspectives (23/24-1-1997), that the Academy is planning to close the Biological Station Lunz on 31 December 2003.
All of us in Lunz are hoping for a solution which will prevent the closure and enable the Biological Station Lunz to carry on beyond 2003, but I feel it is my responsibility to invite all colleagues interested in classical limnological sites or wishing to use our unique field sites to visit the station before the end of 2003. You are welcome at any time.
Institute for Limnology,
Austrian Academy of Sciences