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. Birds have been widely used since the 1960s as ideal sentinel species to monitor exposure and effects of pollution in the environment. Studies are performed both in aquatic and terrestrial environments. Of particular interest are effects on physiology, behavior and reproduction.
The development, validation end employment of non-destructive biomonitoring methods (for example feathers) is an integral part of the research performed in the Bird ecotoxicology group. One ongoing project is focusing on interactions between natural stressors and pollutant exposure in nestling birds of prey: "Feathers as a novel integrated measure of feeding ecology, pollutant exposure and stress". This research is conducted on the Northern Goshawk and White tailed sea-eagle in collaboration with NINA Trondheim and the University of Antwerp (Belgium).
Further research focuses on emerging flame retardants and on interactions of pollution and environmental stressors over time. To do so, research will also be conducted on black-legged kittiwakes at Svalbard, in collaboration with Claus Bech (NTNU) and Geir Wing Gabrielsen (Norwegian Polar Institute). This collaborative research is planned to continue over several years to come.
A "bird ecotoxicology lab" to prepare samples for analysis of organic pollutants, such as PCBs, flame retardants and emerging compounds will soon be setup at the Biology Department. There will be close collaboration with the other labs in the Environmental Toxicology group and other groups at the Biology department.