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The transfer and ecological effects of xenobiotic pollution on freshwater ecosystems

Windsor, Fredric 2019. The transfer and ecological effects of xenobiotic pollution on freshwater ecosystems. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Abstract

1. The diversity of synthetic, xenobiotic chemicals reaching the wider environment has increased rapidly over the past century. The nature and severity of their ecological effects in freshwater systems, however, remains poorly understood, even for the so-called ‘legacy’ pollutants. These persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic compounds still risk having negative effects at all levels of biological organisation long after their initial release into the environment. 2. The ability to determine the ecological risks posed by persistent pollutants remains restricted due to: (1) reliance on standardised toxicology testing on individuals in the laboratory; (2) limited understanding of how spatial and biological variation alters potential ecological effects at population, community and food web levels; and (3) poor knowledge of how pollutant bioaccumulation and biomagnification translate to effects in natural ecosystems. 3. Through global, catchment and reach-scale empirical assessments, this thesis investigated spatial and biological variation, trophic transfers and ecological risk in freshwater ecosystems associated with persistent xenobiotic pollutants (polychlorinated biphenyls [PCBs], polybrominated diphenyl ethers [PBDEs] and organochlorines [OCs]). 4. The transfer, accumulation and magnification of persistent pollutants were related to site-specific environmental conditions, biological traits, food web structure and chemical characteristics, and were sufficient for widespread, hazardous levels of contamination. Across river systems, pollutant body burdens could be linked to putative structural and functional effects that appeared to be networked through food webs. 5. Overall, these data indicate the importance of natural processes in influencing the potential effects of persistent pollutants in freshwater ecosystems. Risk assessments that incorporate the variation present in natural systems are required to improve understanding of the role of xenobiotic pollutants in global environmental change across freshwater ecosystems.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Uncontrolled Keywords: ecology, ecotoxicology, food webs, networks, pollution
Funders: Natural Environment Research Council
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 July 2019
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2019 13:46
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/124277

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