Individual and population effects of multiple stressors
Research on the interaction of pollution with species-specific ecology and natural stress is of utmost importance to understand the effects of pollution in a changing environment. The overall goal of the research performed in the group is to assess the effects of pollution and multiple stressors (including climate change and disease) on the individual and population level. Of particular interest are effects on physiology, behavior and reproduction. So far, most of the research has focused on birds (including song birds, seabirds and raptors), but also studies on rodents and Daphnia are performed. Different types of environmental pollutants are considered (including metals, legacy persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and emerging compounds).
The development, validation end employment of non-destructive biomonitoring methods (for example feathers) is an integral part of the research performed in the Individual and population effects of multiple stressors group. Recently the use of down feathers was investigated as a new promising tool for POPs (Monclús et al. 2018).
A "bird ecotoxicology lab" to prepare samples for analysis of organic pollutants, such as POPs, flame retardants and perfluorinated chemicals has been established and there is close collaboration with Environmental Chemistry at NTNU (Prof. Asimakopoulos and Prof. Flaten) and Prof. Covaci at the University of Antwerp.
Exposure and effects of emerging compounds (such as flame retardants and perfluorinated chemicals) has been a real focus area in the last 4 years and much of the research has been performed within the NewRaptor project (funded by the Norwegian Research Council and NTNU). Both field studies on birds of prey and experimental in vivo studies on quails and chickens have been performed within this framework. Two PhD students have performed their research linked to this project (Nathalie Briels and Mari Løseth, NTNU). Dr. Ciesieski (NTNU) has also assisted in the project. One other PhD candidate (Randi Grønnestad, NTNU), co-supervised by myself (main supervisor Prof. Arukwe), is looking at the exposure and effects of perfluorinated chemicals in rodents.
Further research focuses on interactions of pollution and disease in collaboration with my post doc Dr. Courtney Waugh (NTNU) and Prof. Klaassen (Deakin University, Australia). Studies are performed both in vitro (establishing the role of specific miRNAs in the immune response and how this can be affected by pollutants) as well as using field data on birds, e.g. screening for avian influenza
Recently, a collaboration with the Daphnia lab has been started (Sigurd Einum, NTNU) to investigate the combined effects of pollution and climate on population dynamics in Daphnia. Semona Issa (NTNU) is the PhD candidate working on this topic, and Dr. Ciesielski is also part of the collaboration. Both studies on mercury and anti-depressants under changing climatic conditions are performed.