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Personal profile

Overview

I am interested in understanding and managing the water quality and ecology of urban watercourses, including preventing the formation of potentially harmful ‘blooms’ of blue-green algae. Work with an industrial partner is examining the relationship between past and present water quality and the changes in the ecology of Salford Quays – a restored and redeveloped dock system near Media City, Greater Manchester. The work includes the development of a computer-based model to assist in the ecological management of the Quays. Other studies with a colleague in Geography are looking at how we can improve water quality of urban rivers and canals to assist in the economic regeneration of inner cities. I am also interested in the toxicity of metal pollutants to aquatic animals and plants and how such these toxins are accumulated and transferred through the food chain. This includes examining the impact of nanoparticles, in particular nanosilver. Nanosiliver is used as an antibacterial agent in consumer products such as socks and therefore enters waterways via the sewerage system. We have recently shown that nanosilver is accumulated by gazing and filter feeding animals and is passed along the food chain from algae to zooplankton such as the water flea.

Research interests

Response of invertebrates to metal pollution

My research has two inter-related strands. The first is an examination of the impact of trace metals at the individual and ecosystem level. We have recently shown that aluminium present in polluted waters modifies behaviour in the pond snail Lymnaea. Future work will look for neurophysiological changes and be extended to other sub-lethal measures of potential damage such as a decrease in immuno-competence. My studies at the ecosystem level have centred on an examination of the impact of pollution from mining and mine wastes. In collaboration with geochemists and hydrologists I am looking at changes in community structure in relation to shifts in metal concentrations arising from hydrometeorlogical events. This work is focusing on a catchment in Anglesey whose small size lends itself to intensive study. These investigations have been extended to sites on the Isle of Man and Greece.

The second theme in my work examines how organisms accumulate trace metals and the role of certain organs in detoxifying the absorbed metals. Studies with aluminium are particularly interesting, as we have shown that the metal is accumulated to a high degree by aquatic gastropods and crustacea at pH values where it was thought to be relatively unavailable. I have continued my interest in the response of invertebrates to pollution by metals with an examination of intrinsic and extrinsic influences on metal uptake in relation to their use as monitors.

More recently I have also become interested in the hydrography and ecology of waterbodies recovering from pollution. Redeveloped docks and canals, in particular, provide ideal sites to examine the process of ecological change and recovery. The need to manage such systems also provides opportunities to assess the impact of habitat manipulation and hydrographic changes on the ecology. Of particular interest is the control of phytoplankton by filter-feeding bivalves and exudates from barley straw. My work in this area centres around an examination of estuarine and freshwater docks and waterways.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

External positions

Visiting Professor, Central European University (Budapest College)

1 Aug 2010 → …

Areas of expertise

  • QL Zoology
  • QD Chemistry

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