Nele Schuwirth

Nele Schuwirth
Eawag: Das Wasserforschungs-Institut des ETH-Bereichs | Eawag · Department of Systems Analysis, Integrated Assessment and Modelling

PhD

About

49
Publications
9,000
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1,370
Citations
Citations since 2017
22 Research Items
965 Citations
2017201820192020202120222023050100150
2017201820192020202120222023050100150
2017201820192020202120222023050100150
2017201820192020202120222023050100150
Additional affiliations
February 2006 - February 2021
Eawag: Das Wasserforschungs-Institut des ETH-Bereichs
Position
  • Head of Department

Publications

Publications (49)
Article
Aim Species distribution models (SDMs) are widely used to study geographic distributions of taxa in response to natural and anthropogenic environmental conditions. For a community, common approaches include fitting individual SDMs (iSDMs) to all taxa or directly modelling community properties such as richness. However, the parameters of iSDMs are d...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding and predicting the ecological consequences of different management alternatives is becoming increasingly important to support environmental management decisions. Ecological models could contribute to such predictions, but in the past this was often not the case. Ecological models are often developed within research projects but are ra...
Article
Full-text available
Surface water quality management requires foresighted decision making regarding long-term investments. It should consider multiple objectives (e.g. related to different pollutants and costs), integrate multiple sources of pollution (point and diffuse sources), and external conditions that change over time (climate, population and land-use changes)....
Article
A wide knowledge base regarding the ecological preferences of benthic macroinvertebrates is synthesized in public databases. This knowledge can assist in disentangling the influence of multiple environmental factors on the probability of occurrence of macroinvertebrates and in identifying anthropogenic impacts on the macroinvertebrate assemblage. W...
Article
For the first time, we combine concepts of theoretical food web modeling, the metabolic theory of ecology, and ecological stoichiometry with the use of functional trait databases to predict the coexistence of invertebrate taxa in streams. We developed a mechanistic model that describes growth, death, and respiration of different taxa dependent on v...
Article
Full-text available
Human impacts such as habitat loss, climate change and biological invasions are radically altering biodiversity, with greater effects projected into the future. Evidence suggests human impacts may differ substantially between terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, but the reasons for these differences are poorly understood. We propose an integrativ...
Article
Full-text available
Daten zur zeitlichen Entwicklung der Vielfalt wirbelloser Kleinlebewesen in Fliessgewässern verschiedener Kantone werden den nationalen Datensätzen BDM und NAWA gegenübergestellt. Bis auf wenige Ausnahmen zeigt sich eine auf kantonaler und nationaler Ebene einheitliche Entwicklung: Vor allem die Anzahl pestizidtoleranter Familien und wärmeliebender...
Article
Identifying sublethal pesticide effects on aquatic organisms is a challenge for environmental risk assessment. Long-term population experiments can help assessing chronic toxicity. However, population experiments are subject to stochasticity (demographic, environmental, and genetic). Therefore, identifying sublethal chronic effects from “noisy” dat...
Article
Full-text available
Effluents of wastewater treatment plant can impact microbial communities in the receiving streams. However, little is known about the role of microorganisms in wastewater as opposed to other wastewater constituents, such as nutrients and micropollutants. We aimed therefore at determining the impact of wastewater microorganisms on the microbial dive...
Preprint
Full-text available
Human impacts such as habitat loss, climate change and biological invasions are radically altering biodiversity, with even greater effects projected into the future. Evidence suggests human impacts may differ substantially between terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, but the reasons for these differences are poorly understood. We propose an integ...
Preprint
Wastewater treatment plant effluents can impact microbial communities in receiving streams. However, little is known about the role of microorganisms in wastewater as opposed to other wastewater constituents, such as nutrients and micropollutants. We aimed therefore at determining the impact of wastewater microorganisms on the microbial diversity a...
Article
Full-text available
Recently, a plethora of studies reporting insect declines has been published. Even though the common theme is decreasing insect richness, positive trends have also been documented. Here, we analysed nationwide, systematic monitoring data on aquatic insect richness collected at 438 sites in Switzerland from 2010 to 2019. In addition to taxonomic ric...
Article
Statistical species distribution models (SDMs) are widely used to quantify how taxa respond to environmental conditions and to predict their distribution. However, the application of SDMs to freshwater fish taxa is complicated by the active dispersal of fish taxa through river networks, and the species- and habitat-dependent observation process (i....
Article
Full-text available
Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) play an important role in retaining organic matter and nutrients but to a lesser extent micropollutants. Therefore, treated wastewater is recognized as a major source of multiple stressors, including complex mixtures of micropollutants. These can potentially affect microbial communities in the receiving water bod...
Article
Key decisions in the design of biomonitoring programs include taxonomic resolution, geographic extent, and site selection, each of which can affect our ability to infer human impacts on biodiversity from biomonitoring data. These decisions are constrained by monitoring goals and budget limitations, which may require trade-offs between them. In this...
Article
Species distribution models (SDMs) are often criticised for lacking explicit linkage to ecological concepts. We aim to improve the ecological basis of SDMs by integrating prior knowledge about ecological preferences of organisms. Additionally, we aim to support a systematic, data-driven review of such prior knowledge by confronting it with independ...
Article
Full-text available
Seit 2010 wird der IBCH in der gesamten Schweiz zur Bewertung des Zustands von Fliessgewässern eingesetzt. Rückmeldungen aus den Kantonen haben gezeigt, dass der IBCH in zahlreichen Fällen von der Gewässerbewertung mit anderen Parametern abweicht. Das beauftragte Team hat auf der Basis der bisherigen Untersuchungen die Einflussfaktoren auf den IBCH...
Article
Full-text available
Please cite this article as: Schuwirth, N., Honti, M., Logar, I., Stamm, C., Multi-criteria decision analysis for integrated water quality assessment and management support, Water Research X, https://
Article
Full-text available
Freshwater ecosystems are increasingly under threat as they are confronted with multiple anthropogenic impairments. This calls for comprehensive management strategies to counteract, or even prevent, long-term impacts on habitats and their biodiversity, as well as on their ecological functions and services. The basis for the efficient management and...
Article
Full-text available
Multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) requires an accurate representation of the preferences of decision-makers, for instance in the form of a multi-attribute value function. Typically, additivity or other stringent assumptions about the preferences are made to facilitate elicitation by assuming a simple parametric form. When relaxing such assump...
Article
• Habitat destruction, biological invasions and water quality deterioration are serious threats to native communities and can lead to modifications in community composition and structure, and in ecosystem function. • To predict the consequences of river restoration, biological invasions and water quality change in the taxonomic composition of macro...
Article
Full-text available
The design and evaluation of solutions for integrated surface water quality management requires an integrated modelling approach. Integrated models have to be comprehensive enough to cover the aspects relevant for management decisions, allowing for mapping of larger-scale processes such as climate change to the regional and local contexts. Besides...
Article
Predicting the composition and dynamics of communities is a challenging but useful task to efficiently support ecosystem management. Community ecology has developed a number of promising theories, including food webs, metabolic theory, ecological stoichiometry and environmental filtering. Their joint implementation in a mechanistic modeling framewo...
Article
While the number of river restoration projects is increasing, studies on their success or failure relative to expectations are still rare. Only a few decision support methodologies and integrative methods for evaluating the ecological status of rivers are used in river restoration projects, thereby limiting informed management decisions in restorat...
Article
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Catchments are complex systems where water quantity, quality and the provided ecological services are determined by interacting physical, chemical, biological, economic, and social factors. The awareness of these interactions led to the prevailing catchment management paradigm of Integrated Water Resources Management. The design and evaluation of s...
Article
Modelling community dynamics of aquatic invertebrates is an important but challenging task, in particular in ecotoxicological risk assessment. Systematic parameter estimation and rigorous assessment of model uncertainty are often lacking in such applications. We applied the mechanistic food web model Streambugs to investigated the temporal developm...
Article
The community assembly of macroinvertebrates in streams depends on the regional taxon pool, dispersal limitations, local habitat conditions and biotic interactions. By integrating existing knowledge about these processes from theoretical ecology in a mechanistic model, we can test our mechanistic understanding and disentangle multiple stressor effe...
Article
Full-text available
Environmental decision support intends to use the best available scientific knowledge to help decision makers find and evaluate management alternatives. The goal of this process is to achieve the best fulfillment of societal objectives. This requires a careful analysis of (i) how scientific knowledge can be represented and quantified, (ii) how soci...
Article
We present a novel approach for practically tackling uncertainty in preference elicitation and predictive modeling to support complex multi-criteria decisions based on multi-attribute utility theory (MAUT). A simplified two-step elicitation procedure consisting of an online survey and face-to-face interviews is followed by an extensive uncertainty...
Article
Using macroinvertebrates as ecological indicators for different stressors has a long tradition. However, when applied to field data, one often observes correlations between different macroinvertebrate indices that can be attributed to both correlations of stressors and inherent correlations due to the sensitivity of taxa to different stressors. Ign...
Article
Environmental modeling often requires combining prior knowledge with information obtained from data. The robust Bayesian approach makes it possible to consider ambiguity in this prior knowledge. Describing such ambiguity using sets of probability distributions defined by the Density Ratio Class has important conceptual advantages over alternative r...
Article
Full-text available
We examined the influence of land-use, habitat, and water quality on the spatial distribution of aquatic macroinvertebrates in two human-dominated catchments in the Swiss Plateau (Gürbe, Mönchaltorfer Aa). Land-use in the Gürbe catchment was dominated by agriculture, whereas urban land-use was more common in the Mönchaltorfer Aa. Study sites in eac...
Article
Full-text available
1. Monitoring anthropogenic impacts is essential for managing and conserving ecosystems, yet current biomonitoring approaches lack the tools required to deal with the effects of stressors on species and their interactions in complex natural systems. 2. Ecological networks (trophic or mutualistic) can offer new insights into ecosystem degradation, a...
Article
Ecological assessment requires the integration of many physical, chemical, and/or biological quality elements. The choice of the aggregation method of such partial assessments into an overall assessment can considerably affect the assessment outcome – an issue that has been controversially discussed within the scientific community for the last deca...
Article
Formal methods of decision analysis can help to structure a decision making process and to communicate reasons for decisions transparently. Objectives hierarchies and associated value and utility functions are useful instruments for supporting such decision making processes by structuring and quantifying the preferences of decision makers or stakeh...
Article
In the absence of model deficiencies, simulation results at the correct parameter values lead to an unbiased description of observed data with remaining deviations due to observation errors only. However, this ideal cannot be reached in the practice of environmental modeling, because the required simplified representation of the complex reality by...
Article
Decision making in public and political contexts can be complex. Multi-attribute value/utility theory (MAVT/MAUT) can support such decision processes by providing a transparent framework that helps focusing on objectives and corresponding degrees of achievement by different alternatives. Eliciting preferences with MAVT/MAUT can be time consuming an...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Decisions in environmental management can be challenging, amongst other things, due to two major sources of uncertainty. Predictions of consequences of different management alternatives can be very uncertain. Furthermore, uncertainty exists regarding the subjective preferences of decision makers and stakeholders. For a transparent decision process...
Article
Point-source measures have been suggested to decrease pharmaceuticals in water bodies. We analyzed 68 and 50 alternatives, respectively, for a typical Swiss general and psychiatric hospital to decrease pharmaceutical discharge. Technical alternatives included reverse osmosis, ozonation, and activated carbon; organizational alternatives included uri...
Article
To evaluate the role of the benthic community within headwater stream ecosystems, it is crucial to understand the mechanisms of the processes dominating their turnover rates and temporal dynamics. To analyze the benthic community dynamics of an intermittent Mediterranean stream (Fuirosos, Spain), we developed a mechanistic model that describes the...
Article
It has been recognized for many decades that the stoichiometry of biological reactions is important for linking ecological and biogeochemical processes. However, only during the past decade has the scientific community become aware that “biological stoichiometry” may also help bridge evolutionary biology and ecosystem ecology. This awareness led to...
Article
Background, aim, and scopeContaminated mine drainage water has become a major hydrogeological and geochemical problem. Release of soluble metal contaminants and acidity from mining sites can pose serious chemical risks to surface and groundwater in the surrounding environment, and it is an important socio-economic factor addressed by working groups...
Article
Summary1. Most of the existing river ecosystem models describe only part of the ecosystem, have site-specific features, and lack an adequate treatment of uncertainty.2. We developed a dynamic model of the functional groups of non-filamentous and filamentous algae, scrapers, collector-gatherers and predators of the benthos community in rivers. This...
Article
Sulfide-bearing mine tailings are a serious environmental problem around the world. In this study, the vertical distribution and speciation of Zn and Pb in the fine-grained flotation residues of a former sulfide ore mine in Germany were investigated to assess the inorganic weathering processes that effect the environmental risk arising from this si...
Article
Metal mobility at contaminated sites can be assessed by soil water investigations or by leaching tests. Leaching tests are usually carried out in open contact with the atmosphere disregarding possible changes of redox conditions. This can affect the original metal speciation and distribution, particularly when anoxic samples are investigated. In th...
Article
Goal, Scope and Background The suitability of leaching tests for the assessment of soil water concentrations is a controversial issue. The aim of this paper is to review and critically discuss the applicability and comparability of leaching tests in the scope of groundwater risk assessment of inorganic contamination and to discuss soil water sampli...

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