Innovative solutions for safeguarding freshwater ecosystems

Title of the research project

RIBES - RIver flow regulation, fish BEhaviour and Status

Scientific area 

Ecohydraulics, river ecology, sustainable development


Innovative solutions for mitigating the impacts of man-made structures in rivers that fragment habitats and prevent fish migration are needed. The RIBES project tackles these challenges by training 15 researchers in the interdisciplinary field of Ecohydraulics in a European network of Universities, public agencies and consultancy and hydropower companies.

Description of the research project 

Serious concerns about loss of biodiversity and degradation of aquatic habitats, led the EU to the urgent adoption of a Resolution for implementing ecosystem restoration measures to reach the Biodiversity Strategy targets. On the other hand, the EU increased the binding renewable energy targets for 2030, likely bringing hydropower development with consequent additional pressures on river ecosystems. Meeting these conflicting targets necessitates mitigating the impacts of man-made structures in rivers that fragment habitats and prevent fish migration. 

The RIBES project will train 15 young researchers, each implementing an individual research project within a Doctoral School, aimed at finding innovative solutions for restoring river continuity in anthropogenically altered rivers, with a specific focus on the design and monitoring of fishways. This innovative training and research programme will be carried out in a multidisciplinary and intersectoral European Training Network, encompassing experts in fish biology, river ecology, environmental fluid mechanics and hydraulic engineering, with the aim of disentangling the intricate nexus that links fish locomotion, behavioural response to anthropogenic disturbances and associated stress. The 15 researchers will have access to a number of laboratory and field facilities, modelling techniques, experimental practices and instrumental technologies, to expand current understanding of fish bio-mechanical, behavioural and physiological processes, and to promote development of novel tools and management solutions aimed at improving free passage of migratory fish species along regulated rivers.

Impact on researcher’s career and on society 

RIBES young researchers will acquire multidisciplinary scientific competences and skills in the different scientific and technical fields related to ecohydraulics and will develop professional contacts with industry, academy and public agencies. On a broader scale, project results will be useful to environmental protection agencies, river management authorities, consultancy companies and hydropower industries in pursuing the targets set by the most recent EU strategies for both halting biodiversity loss and increasing the renewable energy share.

RIBES will create a new generation of specialists capable of offering efficient river management and ecological engineering solutions in a new and expanding area of the EU job market.

Working group @Polito 

Claudio Comoglio, associate professor, project coordinator

Costantino Manes, associate professor

Paolo Vezza, associate professor

Daniel Nyqvist, Project Manager

Silvia Antonietti, Financial Officer

List of beneficiary organizations hosting researchers

Fiskevardsteknik i Sverige AB,  Sweden

Ghent University, Belgium

Karlstad University, Sweden

Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Germany

Norconsult AB, Sweden

SJE Ecohydraulic Engineering Gmbh, Germany

Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia

Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy

University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom

University of Southampton, United Kingdom


List of partner organizations 

Consorzio di Bonifica Acque Risorgive, Italy

Environment Agency, UK

Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Ingenieurbüro Dr Gerald Müller, Germany

 Iren Energia SpA, Italy

Research Institute for Nature and Forest, Belgium

The RIBES project has received funding from the European Union Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions, Grant Agreement No. 860800

  • Budget: 4.048.220 euro
  • Start date: 1/01/2020
  • End date: 31/12/2023