Pelagic oxyclines, the transition zone between oxygen rich surface waters and oxygen depleted deep waters, are a common characteristic of eutrophic lakes during summer stratification. They can have tremendous effects on the biodiversity and the ecosystem functioning of lakes and, to add insult to injury, are expected to become more frequent and more pronounced as climate warming progresses. On these grounds, this thesis endeavors to advance the understanding of formation, persistence, and consequences of pelagic oxyclines: We test, whether the formation of metalimnetic oxygen minima is intrinsically tied to a locally enhanced oxygen consuming process, investigate the relative importance of vertical physical oxygen transport and biochemical oxygen consumption for the persistence of pelagic oxyclines, and finally assess their potential consequences for whole lake cycling. To pursue these objectives, the present thesis nearly exclusively resorts to in situ measurements. Field campaigns were conducted at three lakes in Germany featuring different types of oxyclines and resolved either a short (hours to days) or a long (weeks to months) time scale. Measurements comprised temperature, current velocity, and concentrations of oxygen and reduced substances in high temporal and vertical resolution. Additionally, vertical transport was estimated by applying the eddy correlation technique within the pelagic region for the first time. The thesis revealed, that the formation of metalimnetic oxygen minima does not necessarily depend on locally enhanced oxygen depletion, but can solely result from gradients and curvatures of oxygen concentration and depletion and their relative position to each other. Physical oxygen transport was found to be relevant for oxycline persistence when it considerably postponed anoxia on a long time scale. However, its influence on oxygen dynamics was minor on short time scales, although mixing and transport were highly variable. Biochemical consumption always dominated the fate of oxygen in pelagic oxyclines. It was primarily determined by the oxidative breakdown of organic matter originating from the epilimnion, whereas in meromictic lakes, the oxidation of reduced substances dominated. Beyond that, the results of the thesis emphasize that pelagic oxyclines can be a hotspot of mineralization and, hence, short-circuit carbon and nutrient cycling in the upper part of the water column. Overall, the present thesis highlights the importance of considering physical transport as well as biochemical cycling in future studies.
Freshwaters are of immense importance for human well-being.
Nevertheless, they are currently facing unprecedented levels of threat from habitat loss and degradation, overexploitation, invasive species and
To prevent risks to aquatic ecosystems, chemical substances, like agricultural pesticides, have to pass environmental risk assessment (ERA) before entering the market.
Concurrently, large-scale environmental monitoring is used for surveillance of biological and chemical conditions in freshwaters.
This thesis examines statistical methods currently used in ERA.
Moreover, it presents a national-scale compilation of chemical monitoring data, an analysis of drivers and dynamics of chemical pollution in streams and, provides a large-scale risk assessment by combination with results from ERA.
Additionally, software tools have been developed to integrate different datasets used in ERA.
The thesis starts with a brief introduction to ERA and environmental monitoring and gives an overview of the objectives of the thesis.
Chapter 2 addresses experimental setups and their statistical analyses using simulations.
The results show that current designs exhibit unacceptably low statistical power, that statistical methods chosen to fit the type of data provide higher power and that statistical practices in ERA need to be revised.
In chapter 3 we compiled all available pesticide monitoring data from Germany.
Hereby, we focused on small streams, similar to those considered in ERA and used threshold concentrations derived during ERA for a large-scale assessment of threats to freshwaters from pesticides.
This compilation resulted in the most comprehensive dataset on pesticide exposure currently available for Germany.
Using state-of-the-art statistical techniques, that explicitly take the limits of quantification into account, we demonstrate that 25% of small streams are at threat from pesticides.
In particular neonicotinoid pesticides are responsible for these threats.
These are associated with agricultural intensity and can be detected even at low levels of agricultural use.
Moreover, our results indicated that current monitoring underestimates pesticide risks, because of a sampling decoupled from precipitation events.
Additionally, we provide a first large-scale study of annual pesticide exposure dynamics.
Chapters 4 and 5 describe software solutions to simplify and accelerate the integration of data from ERA, environmental monitoring and ecotoxicology that is indispensable for the development of landscape-level risk assessment.
Overall, this thesis contributes to the emerging discipline of statistical ecotoxicology and shows that pesticides pose a large-scale threat to small streams.
Environmental monitoring can provide a post-authorisation feedback to ERA.
However, to protect freshwater ecosystems ERA and environmental monitoring need to be further refined and we provide software solutions to utilise existing data for this purpose.
Agricultural land-use may lead to brief pulse exposures of pesticides in edge-of-field streams, potentially resulting in adverse effects on aquatic macrophytes, invertebrates and ecosystem functions. The higher tier risk assessment is mainly based on pond mesocosms which are not designed to mimic stream-typical conditions. Relatively little is known on exposure and effect assessment using stream mesocosms.
Thus the present thesis evaluates the appliacability of the stream mesocosms to mimic stream-typical pulse exposures, to assess resulting effects on flora and fauna and to evaluate aquatic-terrestrial food web coupling. The first objective was to mimic stream-typical pulse exposure scenarios with different durations (≤ 1 to ≥ 24 hours). These exposure scenarios established using a fluorescence tracer were the methodological basis for the effect assessment of an herbicide and an insecticide. In order to evaluate the applicability of stream mesocosms for regulatory purposes, the second objective was to assess effects on two aquatic macrophytes following a 24-h pulse exposure with the herbicide iofensulfuron-sodium (1, 3, 10 and 30 µg/L; n = 3). Growth inhibition of up to 66 and 45% was observed for the total shoot length of Myriophyllum spicatum and Elodea canadensis, respectively. Recovery of this endpoint could be demonstrated within 42 days for both macrophytes. The third objective was to assess effects on structural and functional endpoints following a 6-h pulse exposure of the pyrethroid ether etofenprox (0.05, 0.5 and 5 µg/L; n = 4). The most sensitive structural (abundance of Cloeon simile) and functional (feeding rates of Asellus aquaticus) endpoint revealed significant effects at 0.05 µg/L etofenprox. This concentration was below field-measured etofenprox concentrations and thus suggests that pulse exposures adversely affect invertebrate populations and ecosystem functions in streams. Such pollutions of streams may also result in decreased emergence of aquatic insects and potentially lead to an insect-mediated transfer of pollutants to adjacent food webs. Test systems capable to assess aquatic-terrestrial effects are not yet integrated in mesocosm approaches but might be of interest for substances with bioaccumulation potential. Here, the fourth part provides an aquatic-terrestrial model ecosystem capable to assess cross-ecosystem effects. Information on the riparian food web such as the contribution of aquatic (up to 71%) and terrestrial (up to 29%) insect prey to the diet of the riparian spider Tetragnatha extensa was assessed via stable isotope ratios (δ13C and δ15N). Thus, the present thesis provides the methodological basis to assess aquatic-terrestrial pollutant transfer and effects on the riparian food web.
Overall the results of this thesis indicate, that stream mesocosms can be used to mimic stream-typical pulse exposures of pesticides, to assess resulting effects on macrophytes and invertebrates within prospective environmental risk assessment (ERA) and to evaluate changes in riparian food webs.
The global problematic issue of the olive oil industry is in its generation of large amounts of olive mill wastewater (OMW). The direct discharge of OMW to the soil is very common which presents environmental problems for olive oil producing countries. Both, positive as well as negative effects on soil have been found in earlier studies. Therefore, the current study hypothesized that whether beneficial effects or negative effects dominate depends on the prevailing conditions before and after OMW discharge to soil. As such, a better understanding of the OMW-soil interaction mechanisms becomes essential for sustainable safe disposal of OMW on soil and sustainable soil quality.
A field experiment was carried out in an olive orchard in Palestine, over a period of 24 months, in which the OMW was applied to the soil as a single application of 14 L m-2 under four different environmental conditions: in winter (WI), spring (SP), and summer with and without irrigation (SUmoist and SUdry). The current study investigated the effects of seasonal conditions on the olive mill wastewater (OMW) soil interaction in the short-term and the long-term. The degree and persistence of soil salinization, acidification, accumulation of phenolic compounds and soil water repellency were investigated as a function of soil depth and time elapsed after the OMW application. Moreover, the OMW impacts on soil organic matter SOM quality and quantity, total organic carbon (SOC), water-extractable soil organic carbon (DOC), as well as specific ultraviolet absorbance analysis (SUVA254) were also investigated for each seasonal application in order to assess the degree of OMW-OM decomposition or accumulation in soil, and therefore, the persisting effects of OMW disposal to soil.
The results of the current study demonstrate that the degree and persistence of relevant effects due to OMW application on soil varied significantly between the different seasonal OMW applications both in the short-term and the long-term. The negative effects of the potentially hazardous OMW residuals in the soil were highly dependent on the dominant transport mechanisms and transformation mechanisms, triggered by the ambient soil moisture and temperature which either intensified or diminished negative effects of OMW in the soil during and after the application season. The negative effects of OMW disposal to the soil decreased by increasing the retention time of OMW in soil under conditions favoring biological activity. The moderate conditions of soil moisture and temperature allowed for a considerable amount of applied OMW to be biologically degraded, while the prolonged application time under dry conditions and high temperature resulted in a less degradable organic fraction of the OMW, causing the OMW constituents to accumulate and polymerize without being degraded. Further, the rainfall during winter season diminished negative effects of OMW in the soil; therefore, the risk of groundwater contamination by non-degraded constituents of OMW can be highly probable during the winter season.
Conversion of natural vegetation into cattle pastures and croplands results in altered emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). Their atmospheric concentration increase is attributed the main driver of climate change. Despite of successful private initiatives, e.g. the Soy Moratorium and the Cattle Agreement, Brazil was ranked the worldwide second largest emitter of GHG from land use change and forestry, and the third largest emitter from agriculture in 2012. N2O is the major GHG, in particular for the agricultural sector, as its natural emissions are strongly enhanced by human activities (e.g. fertilization and land use changes). Given denitrification the main process for N2O production and its sensitivity to external changes (e.g. precipitation events) makes Brazil particularly predestined for high soil-derived N2O fluxes.
In this study, we followed a bottom-up approach based on a country-wide literature research, own measurement campaigns, and modeling on the plot and regional scale, in order to quantify the scenario-specific development of GHG emissions from soils in the two Federal States Mato Grosso and Pará. In general, N2O fluxes from Brazilian soils were found to be low and not particularly dynamic. In addition to that, expected reactions to precipitation events stayed away. These findings emphasized elaborate model simulations in daily time steps too sophisticated for regional applications. Hence, an extrapolation approach was used to first estimate the influence of four different land use scenarios (alternative futures) on GHG emissions and then set up mitigation strategies for Southern Amazonia. The results suggested intensification of agricultural areas (mainly cattle pastures) and, consequently, avoided deforestation essential for GHG mitigation.
The outcomes of this study provide a very good basis for (a) further research on the understanding of underlying processes causing low N2O fluxes from Brazilian soils and (b) political attempts to avoid new deforestation and keep GHG emissions low.
The work presented in this thesis investigated interactions of selected biophysical processes that affect zooplankton ecology at smaller scales. In this endeavour, the extent of changes in swimming behaviour and fluid disturbances produced by swimming Daphnia in response to changing physical environments were quantified. In the first research question addressed within this context, size and energetics of hydrodynamic trails produced by Daphnia swimming in non-stratified still waters were characterized and quantified as a function of organisms’ size and their swimming patterns.
The results revealed that neither size nor the swimming pattern of Daphnia affects the width of induced trails or dissipation rates. Nevertheless, as the size and swimming velocity of the organisms increased, trail volume increased in proportional to the cubic power of Reynolds number, and the biggest trail volume was about 500 times the body volume of the largest daphnids. Larger spatial extent of fluid perturbation and prolonged period to decay caused by bigger trail volumes would play a significant role in zooplankton ecology, e.g. increasing the risk of predation.
The study also found that increased trail volume brought about significantly enhanced total dissipated power at higher Reynolds number, and the magnitudes of total dissipated power observed varied in the range of (1.3-10)X10-9 W.
Furthermore, this study provided strong evidence that swimming speed of Daphnia and total dissipated power in Daphnia trails exceeded those of some other selected zooplankton species.
In recognizing turbulence as an intrinsic environmental perturbation in aquatic habitats, this thesis also examined the response of Daphnia to a range of turbulence flows, which correspond to turbu-lence levels that zooplankton generally encounter in their habitats. Results indicated that within the range of turbulent intensities to which the Daphnia are likely to be exposed in their natural habitats, increasing turbulence compelled the organisms to enhance their swimming activity and swim-ming speed. However, as the turbulence increased to extremely high values (10-4 m2s-3), Daphnia began to withdraw from their active swimming behaviour. Findings of this work also demonstrated that the threshold level of turbulence at which animals start to alleviate from largely active swimming is about 10-6 m2s-3. The study further illustrated that during the intermediate range of turbu-lence; 10-7 - 10-6 m2s-3, kinetic energy dissipation rates in the vicinity of the organisms is consistently one order of magnitude higher than that of the background turbulent flow.
Swarming, a common conspicuous behavioural trait observed in many zooplankton species, is considered to play a significant role in defining freshwater ecology of their habitats from food exploitation, mate encountering to avoiding predators through hydrodynamic flow structures produced by them, therefore, this thesis also investigated implications of Daphnia swarms at varied abundance & swarm densities on their swimming kinematics and induced flow field.
The results showed that Daphnia aggregated in swarms with swarm densities of (1.1-2.3)x103 L-1, which exceeded the abundance densities by two orders of magnitude (i.e. 1.7 - 6.7 L-1). The estimated swarm volume decreased from 52 cm3 to 6.5 cm3, and the mean neighbouring distance dropped from 9.9 to 6.4 body lengths. The findings of this work also showed that mean swimming trajectories were primarily horizontal concentric circles around the light source. Mean flow speeds found to be one order of magnitude lower than the corresponding swimming speeds of Daphnia. Furthermore, this study provided evidences that the flow fields produced by swarming Daphnia differed considerably between unidirectional vortex swarming and bidirectional swimming at low and high abundances respectively.
Agriculture covers one third of the world land area and has become a major source of water pollution due to its heavy reliance on chemical inputs, namely fertilisers and pesticides. Several thousands of tonnes of these chemicals are applied worldwide annually and partly reach freshwaters. Despite their widespread use and relatively unspecific modes of action, fungicides are the least studied group of pesticides. It remains unclear whether the taxonomic groups used in pesticide risk assessment are protective for non-target freshwater fungi. Fungi and bacteria are the main microbial decomposers converting allochthonous organic matter (litter) into a more nutritious food resource for leaf-shredding macroinvertebrates. This process of litter decomposition (LD) is central for aquatic ecosystem because it fuels local and downstream food webs with energy and nutrients. Effects of fungicides on decomposer communities and LD have been mainly analysed under laboratory conditions with limited representation of the multiple factors that may moderate effects in the field.
In this thesis a field study was conducted in a German vineyard area to characterise recurrent episodic exposure to fungicides in agricultural streams (chapter 2) and its effects on decomposer communities and LD (chapter 3). Additionally, potential interaction effects of nutrient enrichment and fungicides on decomposer communities and LD were analysed in a mesocosm experiment (chapter 4).
In the field study event-driven water sampling (EDS) and passive sampling with EmporeTM styrene-divinylbenzene reverse phase sulfonated disks (SDB disks) were used to assess exposure to 15 fungicides and 4 insecticides. A total of 17 streams were monitored during 4 rainfall events within the local application period of fungicides in 2012. EDS exceeded the time-weighted average concentrations provided by the SDB disks by a factor of 3, though high variability among compounds was observed. Most compounds were detected in more than half of the sites and mean and maximum peak (EDS) concentrations were under 1 and 3 µg/l, respectively. Besides, SDB disk-sampling rates and a free-software solution to derive sampling rates under time-variable exposure were provided.
Several biotic endpoints related to decomposers and LD were measured in the same sampling sites as the fungicide monitoring, coinciding with the major litter input period. Our results suggest that polar organic fungicides in streams change the structure of the fungal community. Causality of this finding was supported by a subsequent microcosm experiment. Whether other effects observed in the field study, such as reduced fungal biomass, increased bacterial density or reduced microbial LD can be attributed to fungicides remains speculative and requires further investigation. By contrast, neither the invertebrate LD nor in-situ measured gammarid feeding rates correlated with water-borne fungicide toxicity, but both were negatively associated with sediment copper concentrations. The mesocosm experiment showed that fungicides and nutrients affect microbial decomposers differently and that they can alter community structure, though longer experiments are needed to determine whether these changes may propagate to invertebrate communities and LD. Overall, further studies should include representative field surveys in terms of fungicide pollution and physical, chemical and biological conditions. This should be combined with experiments under controlled conditions to test for the causality of field observations.
Leaf litter breakdown is a fundamental process in aquatic ecosystems, being mainly mediated by decomposer-detritivore systems that are composed of microbial decomposers and leaf-shredding, detritivorous invertebrates. The ecological integrity of these systems can, however, be disturbed, amongst others, by chemical stressors. Fungicides might pose a particular risk as they can have negative effects on the involved microbial decomposers but may also affect shredders via both waterborne toxicity and their diet; the latter by toxic effects due to dietary exposure as a result of fungicides’ accumulation on leaf material and by negatively affecting fungal leaf decomposers, on which shredders’ nutrition heavily relies. The primary aim of this thesis was therefore to provide an in-depth assessment of the ecotoxicological implications of fungicides in a model decomposer-detritivore system using a tiered experimental approach to investigate (1) waterborne toxicity in a model shredder, i.e., Gammarus fossarum, (2) structural and functional implications in leaf-associated microbial communities, and (3) the relative importance of waterborne and diet-related effects for the model shredder.
Additionally, knowledge gaps were tackled that were related to potential differences in the ecotoxicological impact of inorganic (also authorized for organic farming in large parts of the world) and organic fungicides, the mixture toxicity of these substances, the field-relevance of their effects, and the appropriateness of current environmental risk assessment (ERA).
In the course of this thesis, major differences in the effects of inorganic and organic fungicides on the model decomposer-detritivore system were uncovered; e.g., the palatability of leaves for G. fossarum was increased by inorganic fungicides but deteriorated by organic substances. Furthermore, non-additive action of fungicides was observed, rendering mixture effects of these substances hardly predictable. While the relative importance of the waterborne and diet-related effect pathway for the model shredder seems to depend on the fungicide group and the exposure concentration, it was demonstrated that neither path must be ignored due to additive action. Finally, it was shown that effects can be expected at field-relevant fungicide levels and that current ERA may provide insufficient protection for decomposer-detritivore systems. To safeguard aquatic ecosystem functioning, this thesis thus recommends including leaf-associated microbial communities and long-term feeding studies using detritus feeders in ERA testing schemes, and identifies several knowledge gaps whose filling seems mandatory to develop further reasonable refinements for fungicide ERA.
Recent estimates have confirmed that inland waters emit a considerable amount of CH4 and CO2 to the atmosphere at the regional and global scale. But these estimates are based on extrapolated measured data and lack of data from inland waters in arid and semi-arid regions and carbon sources from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) as well insufficient resolution of the spatiotemporal variability of these emissions.
Through this study, we analyzed monthly hydrological, meteorological and water quality data from three irrigation and drinking water reservoirs in the lower Jordan River basin and estimated the atmospheric emission rates of CO2. We investigated the effect of WWTPs on surrounding aquatic systems in term of CH4 and CO2 emission by presenting seasonally resolved data for dissolved concentrations of both gases in the effluents and in the receiving streams at nine WWTPs in Germany.
We investigated spatiotemporal variability of CH4 and CO2 emission from aquatic ecosystems by using of simple low-cost tools for measuring CO2 flux and bubble release rate from freshwater systems. Our estimates showed that reservoirs in semi-arid regions are oversaturated with CO2 and acted as net sources to the atmosphere. The magnitude of observed fluxes at the three water reservoirs in Jordan is comparable to those from tropical reservoirs (3.3 g CO2 m-2 d-1). The CO2 emission rate from these reservoirs is linked to changes of water surface area, which is the result of water management practices. WWTPs have been shown to discharge a considerable amount of CH4 (30.9±40.7 kg yr-1) and CO2 (0.06±0.05 Gg yr-1) to their surrounding streams, and emission rates of CH4 and CO2 from these streams are significantly enhanced by effluents of WWTPs up to 1.2 and 8.6 times, respectively.
Our results showed that both diffusive flux and bubble release rate varied in time and space, and both of emission pathways should be included and variability should be resolved adequately in further sampling and measuring strategies. We conclude that future emission measurements and estimates from inland waters may consider water management practices, carbon sources from WWTPs as well spatial and temporal variability of emission.