SIFIM is a self-contained learning environment to support the basic understanding of typical effects of human activities on river ecosystems. The focus is on the so called ‘hydromorphological pressures’ like connectivity interruptions, impoundment, water abstraction, hydropeaking and impaired river morphology which represent the major human pressures on the ecological status of Austrian rivers according to the EU-Water Framework Directive (EU-EFD) assessment (BMLFUW, 2005). The content of the software is based on scientific literature and monitoring data. In some cases data were generalized for the reason of clarity. Most data are provided in combination with pictures exemplifying the related type of pressure. These pictures were selected by the availability of copyrights and visual clarity. It is important to note, that the data do not reflect the actual situation at the specific site shown in the combined picture but represent examples for the potential negative effects of the different pressure types at similar sites.

You can start the learning activity by exploring the natural physical and biological situation of a river system within the hyprorhithral-epipotamal river region. The you are then invited to explore the physical and biological effects of different types of human pressures. Hereby, you have to determine the proposed direction of change of selected parameters in relation to individual hydromorphological pressures. After you have provided the right answers, you have access to the detailed descriptions of the biological effects caused by the selected pressure type.

Finally, when you have explored the hydromorphological pressure types by providing all right answers in the physical effect window, you are offered the opportunity to create a personalized certificate of completion of the SIFIM course.