HIGH-ARCTIC - Günter Köck´s Research Page

My professional career rests on two pillars: environmental research and the coordination of international research programmes.

Since the early 1980s I have been involved in numerous environmental toxicology-related research projects. All these projects were carried out in my position as research scientist and lecturer at the Institute of Zoology and Limnology of the University of Innsbruck (Austria).

My research activities include


  • ·effects of metals on aquatic ecosystems
  • ·environmental physiology and ecotoxicology of freshwater fish
  • ·fish as indicators of environmental pollution
  • ·aquatic invertebrates as bioindicators of metal contamination of aquatic  ecosystems
  • ·climate change in Alpine and Arctic regions

Since 1997 I have focussed my research activities on the Austrian-Canadian research cooperation “HIGH-ARCTIC - Fish from sensitive ecosystems as bioindicators of global climate change”. Since 2010 my research is carried out as associate scientist at the Institute of Interdisciplinary Mountain Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW-IGF) in Innsbruck (Austria).

From 2004 - 2022 I was the coordinator of the international research programmes (e.g. UNESCO „Man and the Biosphere - MAB“, Global Change, Geo/Hydro Sciences) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna (Austria).

Besides my passion for the Arctic, there is a second one, namely UNESCO´s "Man and the Biosphere (MAB)“ Programme with its World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR).

As coordinator of international research programmes and closely involved in protected area networks such as the World Network of Biosphere Reserves of UNESCO´s MAB Programme, it was my concern from the beginning to make scientific findings accessible to a wider scientific community. As one of the two founding editors of the scientific journal eco.mont – Journal on Protected Mountain Areas Research and Management, I was able to put this into practice.

Current professional activities:

Austrian delegate to the International Coordinating Council of UNESCO´s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB-ICC)

Member of the EuroMAB Steering Committee 2019-2024

Member of the Austrian UNESCO Commission

Rapporteur of the Open-ended UNESCO-MAB Working Group for Thematic Networks

Member of the Board of Trustees (Nationalpark-Kuratorium) of the „Hohe Tauern“ National Park

Member of the Plenary "Forum Landschaft, Alpen Pärke" of the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT)

Chair of ISCAR´s Working Group for Protected Areas (ISCAR-P)

Member of the Advisory Board of ABOL (Austrian Barcode of Live Initiative)

Co-editor of the scientific journal “eco.mont”


2000: Canada Award of the University of Innsbruck

2010: "Silberner Hahn" and "Goldener Hahn" for the book "Planet Austria" (best Public Relation project)

2010: The Canadian Government´s "Go for Gold" honorary medal for exceptional contributions to Canada-Austria Relations

2011: Gourmand World Cookbook Award in the category “Sustainable food”  for the cookbook "A Connoisseur´s World - The Austrian Biosphere Reserves"

2013: Designation "Official Austrian UN Project of the Decade for Sustainable Development 2005-2014" for the project "Enjoying diversity / Vielfalt genießen"

Public relation:

In addition to my media relations work I give numerous popular-scientific talks about arctic and mountain research as well as UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in schools and within public education schemes (e.g. “Science goes School”).

Past professional activities (selected):

Chair of the International Scientific Board for the 5th and 6th International Symposium for Research in Protected Areas (2013 and 2017)

Austrian delegate to the European Alliance of Global Change Research Committees
Delegate to the ISCAR -International Scientific Committee for Alpine Research (2004-2022)

Member of the Scientific Board of the „Hohe Tauern“ National Park (2011-2022)

Member of the Sonnblick Observatory Scientific Advisory Board

Member of the Austrian Delegation for the 33rd, 34th, 35th, 36th, 37th, 38th, 39th and 40th General Conferences of UNESCO

Vice-Chair of the UNESCO MAB Programme (2004, 2010, 2012, 2020)

Vice-Chair and Rapporteur of the UNESCO MAB Programme (2020)

Member of the Scientific Council at the Venice-based UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe-BRESCE (2009-2011)

Member of the EuroMAB Steering Committee 2013-2017

Member of the “Working Group UNESCO World Heritage” of the Alpine Convention

Chair of the EUROMAB Working Group for EXPO 2015

Chair of the Expert Meeting on “MAB Research Site” at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris (2011)

Chair of UNESCO Panel 3: Science and knowledge networks for sustainable development (2008)