Main research questions:
- How does structure and function of a natural periphyton changes during a chronic exposure towards herbicides and/or antibiotics (direct effects)?
- Do we find any indirect effects towards grazer consuming contaminated biofilm? Do similar patterns appear regarding the direction of the effect in physiologically different grazers (Potamopyrgus antipodarum vs. Cloeon dipterum)?
- Can these effects be counteracted by adaption of periphyton to those stressors?
In lotic ecosystems, biofilms or periphyton are important contributors to primary production. Additionally, they are a hot spot of biodiversity, composed of algae, diatoms, fungi and bacteria. Chemical contamination (eg. runoff or wastewater) poses a risk for biofilm quantity and quality. The research challenges of this PhD project are: understanding the impact of herbicides and antibiotics on primary producers’ diversity, the consequences for the food quality of the biofilm for higher trophic levels, and further bottom-up or top-down effects.