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Physiological and biochemical approaches to the assessement of pollution of European estuarine and coastal ecosystems


To assess the physiological and biochemical effects of natural environmental stresses (oxygen, salinity and suspended sediment) on the response of marine organisms to pollutants.

This cooperative project is investigating the biochemical and physiological effects of contamination and the fundamental basis of response to natural variables within a suite of organisms representative of major estuarine and inshore coastal environments of europe. it will relate the pollution effects and the complex of biological response on the inherent variability of the environment together in an experimental programme to address the question: "how do natural environmental variables in coastal and marine environments, such as oxygen deficiency, salinity changes and suspended matter, modulate the responses of benthic organisms to pollution and vice versa?"

The joint project comprises four sub-projects:
1. Responses to high sediment load (p. leader bayne, nerc imer, Plymouth).
this sub-project will measure aspects of feeding behaviour in conditions of high suspended sediment concentrations, in the presence and absence of chemical contaminants. the extent to which normal feeding behaviour is modified by the pollutants will be quantified and the effects this has on the uptake of pollutants into the animal's bodies (from the dissolved and - or the particulate phase) will be determined.

2. Responses to oxygen depletion - part 1: oxygen transport (p.leader weber, University of Odense).
this sub-project determines how the functional properties of the biochemical oxygen transport and delivery system, operating under conditions of environmental hypoxia, are affected by pollution.

3. Responses to oxygen depletion - part 2: anaerobic metabolism (p.leader de zwaan, University of Utrecht).
This sub-project evaluates the functional aspects of anaerobic biochemical pathways in animals exposed to reduced oxygen tensions in the environment in the presence or absence of chemical contaminants. the extent to which normal anaerobic metabolism is disrupted by pollutants will be measured and related to the energetic consequences for the organisms.

4. Responses to salinity change. (p.leader gilles, University of Liege).
this sub-project determines how the normal mechanisms of regulating osmotic and ionic balance when subjected to reduced salinities are affected by simultaneous exposure to pollutants.

The overall project and each sub-project are representing a close scientific cooperation between various institutes from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Denmark, Italy.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


8,Azaleastraat 85
2565 CD Den Haag

Participants (3)

NERC Institute for Marine Environmental Research
United Kingdom