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Effects of metal pollution across different levels of biological organisation in the River Rhine system with a special focus on Theodoxus fluviatilis as a potential indicator organism

  • Pollution through anthropogenic activities is a major threat for freshwater ecosystems. Metals are a relevant group of contaminants that affect aquatic organisms, communities, and ecosystems. This thesis aims at examining the effects of metal pollution across different levels of biological organisation in the anthropogenically degraded environment of the German River Rhine system and at discussing the role of the freshwater snail Theodoxus fluviatilis as an indicator organism. A field investigation to detect the effects of metal pollution at the macroinvertebrate community level in the River Rhine system shows that the measured metals are less relevant than geogenic originated factors at the sampling sites (paper 1). Additionally, the community structure is strongly characterised by a separation of non-native taxa in the River Rhine and native taxa in its tributaries. This indicates that the occurrence of invasive species could possibly be a factor structuring the macroinvertebrate community to such a high extent that the effects of other stressors are masked. Regarding the effects of metal pollution on the population, organism, and physiological level of the Danubian form of T. fluviatilis in the River Rhine, only the metal chromium affects the snail specimens negatively (paper 2). As the Danubian T. fluviatilis seems to be able to cope with the partly high concentrations of copper and zinc at the sampling sites, its suitability as an indicator for metal pollution is questionable. However, in the practice of Rhine monitoring, a distinction between the two occurring, phylogenetically different forms of T. fluviatilis is not made, though the original, native indicator has been replaced by the presumably more tolerant non-native Danubian form. An intraspecific variability in T. fluviatilis is assumed, for what first indications are found regarding differences in the infection of the two forms with parasitic trematodes (paper 3). The investigations about a possible intraspecific variability have to be complemented by comparative laboratory analyses, for which purpose an experiment with the two forms of T. fluviatilis is developed (paper 4). The results of this thesis show that investigations about the effects of pollutants in ecosystems should encompass a variety of responses across different levels of biological organisation, as well as the co-occurrence and interaction of various abiotic and biological stressors. Further, a possible intraspecific variability in the indicator organism T. fluviatilis has to be included in the monitoring strategies and ecological assessment of the anthropogenically degraded River Rhine system.
Author:Louisa Marie Rothmeier
Referee:Andreas MartensGND, René SahmGND, Carola WinkelmannGND
Advisor:Andreas MartensGND, René SahmGND
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Year of Completion:2023
Date of first Publication:2023/08/02
Granting Institution:Pädagogische Hochschule Karlsruhe, Fakultät B - Fakultät für Natur- und Sozialwissenschaften (seit WS 19/20)
Date of final exam:2023/07/04
Release Date:2023/08/02
Tag:Haplotyp; Indikatororganismus; Parasitismus
Theodoxus fluviatilis
GND Keyword:Rhein; Metall; Umweltverschmutzung; Umwelttoxikologie; Makrozoobenthos; Süßwasser
Note:Das Projekt wurde durch ein Promotionsstipendium der Deutschen Bundesstiftung Umwelt gefördert.
Identifier Union Catalogue:1854211242
Institutes:Fakultät B - Fakultät für Natur- und Sozialwissenschaften (seit WS 19/20) / Institut für Biologie und Schulgartenentwicklung
DDC class:500 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 570 Biowissenschaften, Biologie
Licence (German):License LogoVeröffentlichungsvertrag für Dissertationen