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Ecotoxicology

Ecotoxicology concerns the fate, uptake and effects of anthropogenic contaminants in the environment, and ultimately, the risk activities releasing theses contaminants pose to ecosystems. Our research emphasizes the ecological and environmental aspects of these issues. We study how ecological and environmental parameters and processes, for example those affected by eutrophication or climate change, influence fate and uptake of contaminants with different properties. Our main research focus concerning effects is how individual-level effects of contaminants translate to effects on populations, communities and ecosystems. Ultimately, predictions and validations of these levels of effects are paramount for performing ecological risk assessments, where the protective goals are on population-level or above.

Ongoing projects

  • The effects of estrogen on aquatic ecosystems (see below).
  • Bioaccumulation and population level effects of pharmaceuticals.
  • Impact of membrane associated effects of engineered nanomaterials on aquatic communities.
  • Fate and accumulation of persistent organic pollutants.
  • Effects of agrochemicals on structure and function of microbial communities.

Ecosystem effects of estrogen

Natural systems are affected by thousands of chemicals, but their effects on ecosystems are unknown. This project aims at providing such knowledge by testing how synthetic estrogen in low concentrations affects the structure and function of pond ecosystems. The specific questions asked are: How does endocrine disrupting chemicals such as synthetic estrogens affect reproductive success and population densities of different species? What are the indirect effects on the food web? How does these effects translate into the ecosystem services provided by these systems?

To answer these questions, we perform long-term experiment that to reveal the consequences of direct and indirect effects of synthetic estrogen on pond ecosystems. Interpretations of causality will depart from principles in community ecology and will be based on estimates of reproductive, mortality and growth rates in the pond experiments and in single species experiments with some selected key species at different trophic positions. This project will generate valuable knowledge for ecological risk assessment to guide the future management of aquatic ecosystems exposed to contaminants and where mitigations to reduce exposure are best located.

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