The research programme

The research programme

Recognizing the importance of understanding cause-effect relationships in protecting biodiversity, the proposed research project will perform research on novel conceptual and methodological approaches in relating chemical pollution of aquatic ecosystems and ecological alterations in these systems. In situ assessment of pollution and biotic communities in contrasting river systems, supported by establishing technological and modelling tools for effect diagnosis and prediction, will contribute to the development of case-oriented diagnostic tools. The identification of key toxicants, their bioavailability, fate, transport and biological damage over a gradient of pollution, if complemented with experimental studies under more controlled conditions (i.e. micro- and mesocosm studies where the biota is exposed to a single cause of impact, exposure studies in single species systems), will finally result in the description of cause-effect relationships and allow the modelling of toxicant effects on the biota. This understanding is essential for the analysis of the impairment of water quality and the good ecological status, demanded by the WFD (Water Framework Directive).

Specific objectives are to develop tools:

1-.To develop methods for RDA (risk-directed analysis) based on effects and bioavailability
2-.To identify newly emerging non-regulated toxicants which may pose a risk to the river ecosystem.
3-.To determine the fate and behaviour (sorption, biodegradation) of new toxicants
4-.To identify key factors controlling bioavailability in benthic invertebrates and biofilms
5-.To obtain evidence of cause-effect relationships of exposure to the key pollutants on the rivers’ biodiversity
6-.To develop models to predict the transport and biological effects of pollutants
7-.To provide diagnostic tools to assess the effects of pollution on European rivers biodiversity