Profile of the working group
Research goals Functional Aquatic Ecotoxicology
The recently established working group aims at understanding the mechanisms leading to alterations in important aquatic ecosystem processes and ultimately ecosystem services in a stressed environment. Thereby, we mainly focus on heterotrophic, leaf associated biofilms and their contribution to leaf litter breakdown and nutrition of higher trophic levels, namely shredders as model system. Recently we started to expand to photoautotrophic biofilms, their contribution to primary production and role in the nutrition of organisms feeding on these biofilms. By involving methods on the genetic, physiological and behavioural level in combination with laboratory, semi-field and field experiments we address responses on the community, population, individual and sub-organismic level with increasing emphasis on effect propagation across ecosystem boundaries. We are, additionally, interested in assessing the functional role that emerging stressors such as nanoparticle or microplastics fulfil. Here, we focus on how natural (UV-light, dissolved organic carbon) and anthropogenic factors affect the fate and effects of these emerging stressors. The two major areas of our research are realised in collaborations with colleagues at the Institute for Environmental Sciences.