Multiple stressors and pollutants

Freshwaters are used intensively by humans, meaning that they are exposed to a number of stressors. We explore the complex interrelations and impacts of the different stressors: How do nutrients and contaminants enter our surface waters, which factors play a central role in this process, and where are rivers and lakes in a particularly poor state? Nutrient inputs of nitrogen and phosphate, for example, may affect water quality, leading to algal blooms. It is often impossible to completely remove pharmaceuticals and biocides during wastewater treatment. They then end up in rivers and lakes, where they may affect the hormonal metabolism of fish and amphibians. Mining may lead to the contamination of adjacent freshwaters with potash and sulphate. Land use change, urbanisation, water control structures and the increasing use of artificial lighting at night (light pollution) exert additional pressure on our freshwaters. In our research, we acknowledge that use by humans is an important part of reality – only then can future-oriented solutions be developed.

Related News

press release

Acid rain is yesterday’s news?

Acid rain seems to be a thing of the past, yet sulphate continues to rise in many inland waters worldwide. A new study provides an overview of the sources of sulphate and its effects on freshwater ecosystems. 

Selected publications

January 2021
Nature Ecology & Evolution. - 4(2020), S. 318–319

Lunar illuminated fraction is a poor proxy for moonlight exposure

Christopher C. M. Kyba; Jeff Conrad and Tom Shatwell

The authors suggest that lunar illuminated fraction should, in general, never be used in biological studies, as alternative variables such as horizontal illuminance better represent moonlight exposure, and therefore offer a greater chance of detecting the effects of moonlight. They provide a brief explanation of how moonlight varies with season and time of night.

January 2021
Environmental Pollution. - 264(2020), art. 114793

Uptake and physiological effects of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid and its commercial formulation Confidor® in a widespread freshwater oligochaete

Valeska Contardo-Jara; Mark O.Gessner

The neonicotinoid imidacloprid (IMI) is one of the most extensively applied neuro-active insecticides worldwide and continues to enter surface waters in many countries despite a recent ban for outdoor use in the EU. The study assessed the effects of pure IMI and its commercial formulation Confidor® on the aquatic oligochaete Lumbriculus variegatus, a key species in freshwater sediments.

January 2021
Environmental Science : Nano. - 7(2020)7, S. 2130-2139

Nanosilver impacts on aquatic microbial decomposers and litter decomposition assessed as pollution-induced community tolerance (PICT)

Daniela Batista; Ahmed Tlili; Mark O. Gessner; Cláudia Pascoalab and Fernanda Cássio

The authors have shown that shifts in microbial communities triggered by chronic exposure to low concentrations of silver nanoparticles increases the community tolerance to silver, as described in the pollution-induced community tolerance (PICT) concept, with consequences for leaf litter decomposition, a pivotal process in forest streams. 

December 2020
Earth-Science Reviews. - 212(2021), Art. 103446

Sulphate in freshwater ecosystems: a review of sources, biogeochemical cycles, ecotoxicological effects and bioremediation

Dominik Zak; Michael Hupfer; Alvaro Cabezas; Gerald Jurasinski; Joachim Audet; Andreas Kleeberg; Robert McInnes; Søren Munch Kristiansen; Rasmus Jes Petersen; Haojie Liu; Tobias Goldhammer

Sulphate pollution of inland waters is a persistent global problem. Climate change, land use and acid mining drainage are among the main causes. The review shows that sulphate affects the biogeochemical turnover of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus and can have toxic effects on aquatic organisms. Bioremediation in buffer zones is a possible mitigation tool.

Related Projects

Sulphate in River Spree and Lake Müggelsee

Scientific investigations in mining landscape on the example of the problem "Brown Spree". Long-term development of sulphate concentration in the Spree and Müggelsee ...
Contact person
Tobias Goldhammer
Thomas Rossoll
Department
(Dept. 6) Chemical Analytics and Biogeochemistry
Start
05/2015
End
12/2025
Topic

CLIMSHIFT

CLIMSHIFT aims for a mechanistic under-standing of stressor interactions acting on shallow aquatic systems, which are especially vulnerable to climate warming and agricultural run-off.
Contact person
Sabine Hilt
Franz Hölker
Department
(Dept. 1) Ecohydrology
(Dept. 2) Ecosystem Research
Start
05/2018
End
04/2021
Topic

FIThydro – Fish friendly Innovative Technologies for hydropower

FIThydro addresses the decision support in commissioning and operating hydro-power plants (HPP) through the use of existing and innovative technologies and the integration of ecological, technical, economic and societal perspectives to improve sustainable hydropower use at a maximum mitigation of ecological impacts.
Contact person
Christian Wolter
Department
(Dept. 4) Biology and Ecology of Fishes
Start
11/2016
End
10/2020
Topic

Species protection through environmental friendly lighting (AuBe)

Species protection through environmentally friendly lighting Tatort streetlight discovers causes for insect decline. Street lighting can severely impair nocturnal flying insects, as many insects are attracted to the light of the luminaires and withdrawn from their actual habitats. Help us to investigate which insects are affected by street lighting and how environmentally sound lighting solutions can help preserve the insects' habitat.
Contact person
Sibylle Schroer
Franz Hölker
Department
(Dept. 1) Ecohydrology
Start
06/2019
End
05/2025
Topic

Host−parasite interactions in hybridizing Daphnia

Eutrophication is a worldwide environmental problem accelerated by global warming, affecting the stability of aquatic ecosystems and having long-lasting consequences. In this project we investigate if and how eutrophication affects two interacting evolutionary processes: disease spread and interspecific hybridization.
Contact person
Justyna Wolinska
Department
(Dept. 2) Ecosystem Research
Start
01/2017
End
12/2019
Topic

Related Downloads

Urban Water Interfaces (UWI) Research Aligned In Common Topics

Current research carried out by doctoral students within the interdisciplinary research training group "Urban Water Interfaces" (UWI), a joint initiative of TUB and IGB.

Loss of the Night

Transdisciplinary Research on Light Pollution

MONERIS

City, country, river: modelling and managing nutrient pollution in lakes and rivers

Experts at IGB

Tobias Goldhammer

Research Domain Speaker
Research group
Nutrient Cycles and Chemical Analytics

Franz Hölker

Research Group Leader
Research group
Light Pollution and Ecophysiology

Ilka Lutz

Research Group Leader
Research group
Effects of Endocrine Active Substances

Thomas Meinelt

Research Group Leader
Research group
Fish Pathology, Ecotoxicology and Stress Ecology

Matthias Stöck

Research Group Leader
Research group
Evolutionary Biology and Ecotoxicology of Amphibians and Fish

Markus Venohr

Research Group Leader
Research group
River System Modelling

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