Fate and effects of nanoparticles in freshwater ecosystems
My PhD project addresses how different anthropogenic and natural stressors affect freshwater ecosystems. In particular, I will assess the effects of different nanoparticles (NPs) in aquatic communities and in ecosystem functioning on artificial freshwater wetlands.
When released to the environment, or when entering non-target organisms, nano-sized materials (with one dimension under 100 nm) can represent risks to the environment and/or human health. Most studies on the effects of NPs are performed under controlled laboratory conditions. Although these studies are very important for our understanding, there is a need to expand our knowledge by assessing environmental effects and fate of NPs on more natural ecosystems. When entering natural ecosystems, NPs will undergo a variety of transport and environmental transformation processes (weathering), that could affect their fate and hazard potential. In this sense, there is not only a need to evaluate NPs effects, but also taking into consideration the weathering processes that could occur in the ecosystems. Moreover, I am interested in assessing how these aquatic ecosystems respond when exposed to the combination of multiple stressors, either natural or anthropogenic.