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The Role of Aquatic Food Webs in Contaminant Cycling, Transport, & Toxicity

Speaker: Dr. Jess Brandt, University of Connecticut

Traditionally under-considered, the influence that biota exert over environmental contaminant behavior is emerging as an important driver of contaminant persistence and legacy impact. This influence involves processes that span all levels of biological organization and manifests as a complex set of interactions between food webs and contaminants that can attenuate efforts to reduce contaminant burdens. It is becoming clear that these interactions will need to be accounted for in environmental policy making and management, which presents an opportunity for collaboration at the interface of basic and applied research.

This presentation will explore the influence of biota on contaminant dynamics in aquatic ecosystems through an overview of two recent projects about 1) the spatial and temporal patterns of selenium cycling in the Gunnison River, Colorado, and 2) spawning migrations of Pacific salmon as biological pumps of nutrient and contaminant subsidies to North America. The talk will also highlight the questions that motivate the research program in the Brandt Lab at the University of Connecticut.