Understanding how ecosystems respond to pollution
This research includes studies on the effects of hypoxia (low oxygen), endocrine disruptors (chemicals that can temper the hormonal systems of animals) and emerging new chemicals (such as fire retardants, which have a ubiquitous distribution) on marine ecosystems. By focusing on these poorly known areas, MERIT's research will provide us with a better understanding of how ecosystems may be damaged, and their potential for recovery.
Making use of field studies and its own novel technologies for analysis, MERIT also explores which marine species are most affected, recover fastest from pollution damage, how soon and why, and how the recolonisation of these species may affect the subsequent development of the marine community. This knowledge is vital for understanding the recovery processes of damaged marine ecosystems and for effective management.
MERIT's specific research programme for ecosystem studies comprises the following studies:
- The effects of hypoxia and fire retardants on the development of microbial films on sediment and rocky shores, and how they may affect settlement of marine larvae and the subsequent development of marine communities
- The effects of hypoxia on trophic relationships and the structure of marine benthic and plankton communities
- Zooplankton grazing under eutrophication
- Recovery of pelagic and benthic communities after sewage abatement