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Modelling pollutant transfer through arctic marine food webs

Objective

The main objective of the project is to modify and parameterize a model based on Campfens and MacKay (1997) to describe the pollutant transfer process through Arctic marine food webs including seabirds and seals as top predators. This will be an important contribution both to the understanding of pollutant accumulation in food webs in general, and in marine northern environments particular, since the model will be expanded to be valid for marine high-latitudinal food webs with warm-blooded animals as top predators. Preliminary studies by the applicant have described organochlorine concentrations and patterns in the food web, resulting in a detailed and extensive data set that can be utilized to model quantitatively the food web pollution transfer in order to identify which parameters are important for the bioaccumulation process.
The objectives are:
- To modify a model describing food web organochlorine accumulation validated for a temperate lake food web to be valid for Arctic marine food webs
- To expand the existing model to include seabirds and seals rather than fish as top predators in the food web
- To identify the parameters in European Arctic marine food webs that are important for the organochlorine accumulation:
* Is the influence of lipids important?
* Is the food web structure and food chain length important?
* Does a diet of ice-associated fauna as opposed to pelagic fauna influence the biomagnification in top-predators? The applicant expects to develop quantitative analytical skills during the training, which will consist in the set up of mass balance equations to describe food chain pollutant transfer and the following conversion of the mathematical relationships with programming language techniques. The applicant will also benefit from being in a new scientific and academic environment from the one were both her master and doctoral studies were conducted. The quality of the applicant's previous fieldwork perfonned under difficult environmental conditions and her will to get involved in a model development project constitutes an unique opportunity for the host organization. Very rarely the possibility of strict interaction and integration of monitoring and modeling activities can be obtained and we believe that such collaboration could dramatically increase the quality of the understanding of the mechanisms of the food web uptake in Nordic conditions.

Funding Scheme

RGI - Research grants (individual fellowships)

Coordinator

UNIVERSITÀ DEGLI STUDI DELL'INSUBRIA
Address
Via J.h Dunant 3
21100 Varese
Italy