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Influence of biological and physical processes on intertidal sediment dynamics and on the release of pollutants trapped in sediments and the toxicity of these pollutants

Objective

Estuaries and coasts in the SW of England contain historically contaminated sediments. These contaminants include heavy metals Paths and organic compounds. They accumulate in the sediment, which can then act as a contamination source. Bottom-dwelling organisms, like shellfish, can accumulate these chemicals making them a potential risk to human health when consumed. Several processes can lead to pollutant release into the water column: diffusion, physical processes (climate change - tidal currents, storms & rainfall) and biological processes (perturbation). The aim of this multidisciplinary project is to improve understanding of biological and physical processes influencing sediment readability and pollutant mobilisation. We will focus on the impact of various biotas as bio-engineers and their influence on sediment dynamics, the release of pollutant trapped in sediments and the toxicity of these pollutants. There is no similar study devoted to the interactions between chemical, biological and physical processes. This subject is a new approach coupling physical and biological processes to gain insights into the combined actions, which influence sediment stability, readability and deposition in estuaries and finally pollutant fluxes. The research project includes both field and laboratory studies. It is based on several novel methods and techniques presently available at Plymouth Marine Laboratory (host institution) or developed and used by the researcher at the Marine Biological Station in Aeration (France): microcosms, annular flumes, micro-acoustic Doppler velocipede, fluorescent particulate tracers, pollutant analyses, sensitive measurements of sub lethal stress. This proposal is submitted jointly by Professor John Widows from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and by the individual researcher Aurelia Caudate (PhD in Ecotoxicology) for whom this period of advanced training and mobility will provide further maturation and independence as a researcher.

Call for proposal

FP6-2002-MOBILITY-5
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Coordinator

PLYMOUTH MARINE LABORATORY
Address
Prospect Place, The Hoe
Plymouth
United Kingdom