What is SMIRES

What is SMIRES

SMIRES is a COST Action addressing the Science and Management of Intermittent Rivers & Ephemeral Streams More than half of the global river network is composed of intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams (IRES), which are expanding in response to climate change and increasing water demands. After years of obscurity, the science of IRES has bloomed recently and it is being recognised IRES support a unique high-diversity, provide essential ecosystems services and are functionally part of river networks and groundwater systems. However, they still lack protective and adequate management, jeopardizing hereby the water resource at the global scale. SMIRES brings together more than 350 hydrologists, biogeochemists, ecologists, modellers, environmental economists, social researchers and stakeholders from 33 different countries to develop a research network for synthesising the fragmented, recent knowledge on IRES, improving our understanding of IRES and translating this into a science-based, sustainable management of river networks.


Research Coordination Objectives

SMIRES aims to develop a multidisciplinary network of scientists and stakeholders experts on IRES from 32 countries to consolidate and expand the current understanding of IRES and translate it into science-based, sustainable management of IRES resources and biodiversity.

  • To create an extensive research network across river researchers from multiple disciplines to promote the sharing of data and experience and the setup of common experiments;
  • To associate researchers and stakeholders to translate current knowledge about IRES into robust, tangible tools and guidelines for improved management and conservation practices and rules;
  • To link current on-going research efforts on IRES at the European scale and create synergies for further research;
  • To raise social awareness about the values of IRES and train a new generation of researchers.

Capacity-building Objectives

SMIRES has four main capacity-building objectives:

  • To support data sharing, and the creation of 2 metadatabases containing: 1) details of all past and ongoing research efforts on IRES research across the participants, and beyond, and 2) details of flow gauging stations with zero flows at the European scale;
  • To closely associate researchers and stakeholders and generate synergies at the European scale;
  • To train a new generation of Early Stage Researchers (ESRs), provide them with a significant network platform, and creating a Forum of Young Researchers (FYR);
  • To support, in particular for ESRs, visits to participating research institutions within the network for training on targeted technical or methodological aspects.


SMIRES is organized in 5 Working Groups to address:

  • The occurrence, distribution and hydrological trends of IRES;
  • The effects of flow alterations on IRES functions and services;
  • The interaction of aquatic and terrestrial biogeochemical processes at catchment scales;
  • The biomonitoring of the ecological status of IRES;
  • Synergies in IRES research at the European scale, data assemblage and sharing;
  • IRES management and advocacy training.


Deliverables will be provided through:

  • Research workshops synthesising and addressing key challenges in IRES science, supporting research exchange and educating young researchers;
  • Position papers synthesising the state of knowledge, empirical and conceptual syntheses and developments and translation to the management sphere;
  • Researcher-stakeholder workshops translating improved knowledge into tangible tools and guidelines for protecting IRES and raising awareness of their importance and value in societal and decision-maker spheres.


The challenge of SMIRES is to concentrate and refine the currently sparse and fragmented knowledge on IRES with the aim to support the incorporation of these prevalent and unique ecosystems into current water resource and biodiversity management and conservation plans. To do so, SMIRES is joining scattered research activities in nationally-funded research projects across COST Member countries and COST Near Neighbour countries, and those in past and on-going European and internationally funded projects. SMIRES facilitates sharing of data and experience, bring together researchers of many disciplines and stakeholders and create synergies through networking. The ultimate aim is a substantial advancement of the knowledge and management of IRES throughout Europe through a unifying conceptual framework and robust, tangible tools and guidelines.

Modification date: 23 May 2023 | Publication date: 22 May 2023 | By: SW