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Effects of toxicants on freshwater ecosystems

Effekte von Schadstoffen in Fließgewässerökosystemen

  • This habilitation thesis deals with the effects of toxicants on freshwater ecosystems and considers different toxicant classes (pesticides, organic toxicants, salinity) and biotic endpoints (taxonomic community structure, trait community structure, ecosystem functions). The thesis comprises 12 peer-reviewed international publications on these topics. All of the related studies rely on mesocosm or field investigations, or the analysis of field biomonitoring or chemical monitoring data. Publications I and II are devoted to passive sampling of a neonicotinoid insecticide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), respectively. They show that biofouling and a diffusion-limiting membrane can reduce the sampling rate of the pulsed insecticide exposure and that receiving phases of different thicknesses can be used to assess the kinetic regime during field deployment of passive samplers. Publications III to VI mainly focus on trait-based approaches to reveal toxicant effects on invertebrates in streams. An overview on the framework and several applications of a trait-based approach to detect effects of pesticides (SPEARpesticides index) are given in publication III. Publication IV describes the development of a trait database for South-East Australian stream invertebrates and its successful application in the adaptation of SPEARpesticides as well as the development of a salinity index. Moreover, a conceptual model for the future development of trait-based biomonitoring indices is proposed. Publication V reports a mesocom study on the effects of a neonicotinoid insecticide on field-realistic invertebrate communities. The insecticide had long-term effects on the invertebrate communities, which were only detected when grouping the taxa according to their life-history traits. A comprehensive field study employing different pesticide sampling methods including passive sampling and biomonitoring of the invertebrate and microbial communities is presented in publication VI. The study did not find pesticide-induced changes in the microbial communities, but detected adverse effects of current-use pesticides on the invertebrate communities using the trait-based SPEARpesticides index. This index is also applied in a meta-analysis on thresholds for the effects of pesticides on invertebrate communities in publication VII. It is shown that there is a similar dose-response relationship between SPEARpesticides and pesticide toxicity over different biogeographical regions and continents. In addition, the thresholds for effects of pesticides are lower than derived from most mesocosm studies and than considered in regulatory pesticide risk assessment. The publications VIII to X use statistical data analysis approaches to examine effects of toxicants in freshwater ecosystems. Using governmental monitoring data on 331 organic toxicants monitored monthly in 4 rivers over 11 years, publication VIII finds that organic toxicants frequently occurred in concentrations envisaging acute toxic effects on invertebrates and algae even in large rivers. Insecticides and herbicides were the chemical groups mainly contributing to the ecotoxicological risk. Publication IX introduces a novel statistical method based on a similarity index to estimate thresholds for the effects of toxicants or other stressors on ecological communities. The application of the method for deriving thresholds for salinity, heavy metals and pesticides in streams is presented in three case studies. Publication X tackles the question of interactive effects between different toxicants using data from a field study on stream invertebrates in 24 sites of South-East Australia. Both salinity and pesticides exhibited statistically significant effects on the invertebrate communities, but no interaction between the stressors was found. Moreover, salinity acted on a higher taxonomical level than pesticides suggesting evolutionary adaptation of stream invertebrates compared to pesticide stress. Publications XI and XII concentrate on the effects of toxicants on biodiversity, ecosystem functions and ecosystem services, with publication XI summarising different studies related to the ecological risk assessment for these endpoints. A field study on the effects of pesticides and salinity on the ecosystem functions of allochthonous organic matter decomposition, gross primary production and ecosystem respiration is presented in publication XII. Both pesticides and salinity reduced the breakdown of allochthonous organic matter, whereas no effects on the other ecosystem functions were detected. A chapter following these publications synoptically discusses all studies of this habilitation thesis and draws general conclusions. It is stressed that in order to advance the understanding of effects of toxicants on freshwater ecosystems more ecological realism is needed in ecotoxicological approaches and that the spatiotemporal extent of toxicant effects needs more scrutiny.
  • Diese Habilitationsschrift befasst sich mit den Auswirkungen von Schadstoffen auf Süßwasser-Ökosysteme und betrachtet dabei verschiedene Schadstofftypen (Pestizide, generelle organische Schadstoffe, Sanität) und biotische Endpunkte (taxonomische Gemeinschafsstruktur, merkmalsbezogene Gemeinschafsstruktur, Ökosystemfunktionen). Die Habilitationsschrift besteht aus 12 peer-reviewed internationalen Publikationen zu diesen Themen. Alle Studien beruhen auf Daten aus Mesokosmen und Feldstudien, oder auf der Analyse von Daten des biologischen und chemischen Monitorings. Weitere Details zu den individuellen Publikationen finden sich in der englischen Zusammenfassung.

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Author:Ralf Schäfer
Referee:Ralf Schulz
Document Type:Habilitation
Date of completion:2013/07/30
Date of publication:2013/07/30
Publishing institution:Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau, Universitätsbibliothek
Granting institution:Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau, Fachbereich 7
Date of final exam:2013/07/24
Release Date:2013/07/30
Tag:Streams; ecosystem functions; invertebrates; microorganisms; pesticides
GND Keyword:Bach; Fluss; Gewässer; Mikroorganismus; Pestizid; Pflanzenschutzmittel; Umwelttoxikologie; Wirbellose; Ökosystem
Number of pages:164
Institutes:Fachbereich 7 / Fachbereich 7
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 50 Naturwissenschaften / 500 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik
Licence (German):License LogoEs gilt das deutsche Urheberrecht: § 53 UrhG