2018 | Switzerland | Laura Bauer

Littorella uniflora on the upper shore of Lake Zurich – Human impact on the ecology and distribution of an endangered species

Water issue adressed: Too much
Littorella uniflora as a link between water and land.

Since I joined the academia research group at our high school, I knew that I wanted to do a project in natural sciences for my Matura work. Dr. Rolf Heeb then told me about a special plant called Littorella uniflora (European shoreweed, abbreviated L. u.), which he had seen during his stay at the “Red House” in Jona. After some initial research into Littorella uniflora I realised that it is a very rare plant in Switzerland. It reflects the complexity of the mechanisms along lake shorelines due to its sensitivity to environmental changes. L. u.’ecology is strongly influenced by the annual water level fluctuations of the lake. In Switzerland the species is endangered, as it is only found in a few locations, including Lake Zurich, on which the focus of my work lies. While current locations of populations on the southern shore are already listed in the Swiss data base of Info Flora, little research has been done on the northern shore of the upper Lake Zurich. This gave me the opportunity to investigate something that had not been researched in the upper Lake Zurich before.

During my project, I realised that this is about more than just one little plant; it is about raising awareness for the fragility of aquatic systems. Littorella uniflora is an indicator for the disruption of freshwater systems and perfectly symbolizes the issue of preservation of nature and human development. It shows how tiny interventions can easily influence a whole natural system, which could eventually be destroyed.


This is how I came up with the idea for this project:

I already knew I wanted to do a project in natural sciences. After my mentor had told me about Littorella uniflora, the case was clear because this aquatic plant reflects the complexity of ecosystems along lake shores and combines it with botany, which I am interested in both.


Ania Andersch

Programme manager ania.andersch@siwi.org +46 8 121 360 59