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Unravelling the Impacts of Micropollutants in Stream EcosystemsExport this event to calendar

Thursday, January 12, 2017 — 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM EST

stamm_christianChristian Stamm, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag)

How combining real-world data with experimental surveys — both upstream and downstream of wastewater treatment plants — help reveal the drivers of ecological change.

Part of the Water Institute's WaterTalks lecture series

Coffee and refreshments will be provided.


Human-induced environmental changes are causing major shifts in ecosystems around the globe. To support environmental management, scientific research has to infer both general trends and context dependencies in these shifts at global and local scales and elucidate causal relationships between anthropogenic drivers and ecological responses. Because of the many drivers that may impact ecosystems simultaneously it is often difficult to identify the relevance of single stressors.

In this presentation, Christian will illustrate that combining replicated real-world experiments, which take advantage of implemented mitigation measures or other forms of human impact, with researcher-led experimental manipulations can provide powerful scientific tools for inferring causal drivers of ecological change and the generality of their effects. Additionally, combining these two approaches can facilitate communication with stakeholders involved in implementing management strategies.

He will demonstrate such an integrative approach using the case study EcoImpact, which aims at empirically unravelling the impacts of wastewater-born micropollutants such as pharmaceuticals, personal care products or pesticides on aquatic ecosystems. The widespread occurrence of these chemicals in rivers in Switzerland triggered political action. In the future the Swiss wastewater treatment plants will undergo upgrading such to efficiently remove such micropollutants.

He will present selected results from the interdisciplinary project EcoImpact that linked the chemical exposure to biological responses from the physiological to ecosystem function level demonstrating the multifaceted aspects of ecological consequences of these chemicals.

Speaker bio

Christian Stamm, is a soil hydrologist and deputy head of the Department of Environmental Chemistry at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag).

His major research areas include:

  • Transport of agrochemicals (herbicides, veterinary antibiotics, nutrients) from soils to (surface) water bodies
  • Use of different tracers to investigate, characterize and quantify transport and exchange behaviour of solutes in soils at different scales
  • Interdisciplinary approaches for developing scientific bases of sustainable agriculture and assessment of water quality
  • Interdisciplinary research on ecological effects of micropollutants in aquatic ecosystems


Will also be viewable remotely via Livestream.

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