Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Interactions of nutrients and pesticides and their effects on aquatic macrofauna

Can we distinguish the effects of pesticides from other abiotic and biotic factors that occur in the field? And how do these factors interact with pesticides?

2015 - 2019
Henrik Barmentlo
NWO Aspasia NWO Aspasia
Photo: Les pesticides et engrais sont l'une des principales sources de pollution en France © MaxPPP

Short abstract

Whilst in ecotoxicology outstanding lab experiments are performed to unravel the toxicity of pesticides, the results of these experiments can often not be directly extrapolated to natural systems. This is because many additional factors directly and indirectly influence the toxicity of pesticides. This project sets out to distinguish the effects of pesticides from these other factors and study their possible interactions.

Project description

In order to sustain the agricultural practices of humans, an abundancy of pesticides is used. The number of pesticides used is only increasing and therefore the pollution of aquatic environments is becoming more complex. Adding to the complexity are additional biotic and abiotic factors such as species competition and high nutrient loads that occur in natural systems. These factors potentially ‘mask’ the toxic effects of pesticides on aquatic communities or even add to toxicity themselves.

Photo: F. Lamiot | Wikimedia Commons

This research will address these complex interactions on multiple levels via a lab and field approach. We will focus on ditch systems as these systems are i) directly linked to areas where pesticides are used, ii) contain high nutrient concentrations and iii) harbor unique biota.

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