Effects of pesticides and down-the-drain chemicals on sub-tropical aquatic ecosystems
Supervisors: Prof. Guang-Guo Ying and Prof. Paul J. Van den Brink (SCNU and Wageningen University, the Netherlands).
4-year PhD project at
1. SCNU Environmental Research Institute, South China Normal University, Guangzhou University Town, Guangzhou 510006 China
2. Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality department, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands (place of graduation)
Aim of the project:
To perform microcosm experiments in the sub-tropics to 1) assess the difference in response between temperate and sub-tropical aquatic communities to chemical stressors and 2) to understand the observed differences in terms of differences in toxicity (toxicokinetics-toxicodynamics) or ecological processes (selection, dispersal and micro-evolution)
Description of project:
Microcosms are made up of parts of natural ecosystems. They are brought together in a container (for instance an aquarium or a concrete tank) and are left to develop into a system that is complex enough to serve as a model for a natural ecosystem in terms of structure and function. The use of microcosms provides a bridge between the laboratory and the field, in terms of being manageable and allowing replication and hence an experimental set-up on the one side and providing a level of complexity of the aquatic community and realism in terms of ecological processes and exposure to the chemical on the other side. In this way microcosms are the ideal tool to study the toxicological and ecological effects of anthropogenic stressors like pesticides and down-the-drain chemicals on aquatic ecosystems.
It is often questioned whether temperate data can be used for a risk assessment of a (sub)-tropical environment. Many papers conclude that temperate and tropical species don’t have an intrinsic difference in sensitivity to toxicants, but that the resulting cascade of effects and recovery patterns differ due to differences in ecological processes governing these aquatic ecosystems. Other studies found profound differences in sensitivities between temperate and (sub)-tropical aquatic ecosystems so toxicological processes may also play a role. This PhD project will study the difference in response of temperate and (sub)-tropical aquatic ecosystems to different chemicals and will unravel the toxicological and ecological processes determining these differences. For this, four microcosm experiments will be performed at SCNU together with side experiments to unravel the toxicity of the chemical to the most sensitive species and the ecological mechanisms responsible for the ecosystem level effects. Chemicals will be used which have been tested in temperate regions and will include mainly pesticides and pharmaceuticals. The experimental part of the PhD project will be conducted at SCNU while the student will be registered at Wageningen University, The Netherlands. The PhD project will be of a Sandwich type for more information see https://www.wur.nl/en/Education-Programmes/PhD-Programme/Categories-of-PhD-Candidates/Sandwich-PhD-Candidates.htm.