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Steering role of infochemicals for food function and structure


The freshwater environment is influenced by antropogenic influences much more directly than the marine environment, which has lead to major problems with water quality in these systems. Earlier efforts to improve water quality via fish stock management (biomanipulation) in order to reduce the internal nutrient loadings of systems initially seemed promising. However, the lack of proper knowledge and understanding of the trophic interactions in freshwater systems has lead to costly failures. One possible reason for this is, that in food chain- and ecosystem studies, the attention has thus far been focused almost exclusively on the transfer of matter and energy between the different trophic levels, whereas the effect of information flow (by infochemicals) on the matter/energy flow has been largely ignored. The coupling of the flows of information and matter is the main objective of this project.
Hence, the objectives are:
1) To describe quantitatively the matter/energy flow in a simple tritrophic food chain of two contrasting aquatic ecosystems in the catchment of the River Rhine;
2) to isolate and identify infochemicals affecting the structure and functioning of tritrophic food chains;
3) to measure the concentration dependence of individual and population responses to infochemicals in laboratory systems, and to measure the effects on the outcome of competition for resources;
4) to evaluate in model studies, employing individual-based models, the effects of different infochemicals on the transfer of matter and energy in the tritrophic food chain of two contrasting ecosystems on a larger temporal and spatial scale; and,
5) to propose guidelines for an improved integral water management.
Part A describes the idea, current state of the art and how the objectives comply with the objectives of the work programme. Our proposal complies fully with the objectives of Area 1.2.2. and will consider both the functioning of ecosystems (section and biodiversity and environmental change (section The objectives also comply with the thematic network WAtER (Wetland and Aquatic Ecosystem Research), especially with research focus 2 (Infochemicals and Ecosystem Dynamics and Functioning) but also with research focus 1 (Ecosystem Functioning and Biodiversity), research focus 7 (Integrative Tool Development), and is also relevant for research focus 12 (Biomanipulation). It also complies to regional-specific questions of water and ecosystem quality by studying the food chain dynamics of an alpine high mountain lake ecosystem. Four research tasks are specified:
1) quantitative description of matter/energy flow in a simple tritrophic pelagic food chain;
2) isolation and identification of infochemicals;
3) stepwise experimental analysis of the flow regulating effect of infochemicals; and
4) model study of the effects of infochemicals on the structure and functioning of food chains.
Part B describes the organization and the partners. The project consists of 5 partners from three countries: The Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. Additional information of project costs (Table 2, section 8) and exploitation plans are given in Part B. Total cost of the project is estimated to be 1114 kECU and EU-contribution requested for all partners is 916 kECU.

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Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften eV
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8600 Duebendorf

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Martin-luther-king-platz 6
20146 Hamburg

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