Laboratory for Aquatic Ecology

The Laboratory for Aquatic Ecology carries out research on organisms and substances. It looks at how they behave, how certain substances affect organisms, and how substances and organisms behave in interaction with their environment. Important themes include micro-contaminations, the effects of global warming, invertebrates, nutrients, blue algae, marine plastics, and nanomaterials.

The lab is also making a significant contribution to the empirical underpinning of the now much-esteemed tipping point research of Spinoza laureate Marten Scheffer by carrying out observations, controlled experiments, and model testing. The lab provides facilities for research and teaching practicals and supports the fieldwork. 

Sphere of activity

The Laboratory for Aquatic Ecology investigates the environmental and chemical quality of water and sediment, and engages in aquatic and limnology research. It specialises in the study of organic micro-contamination, phytoplankton, cyanotoxins and biotesting. For some analyses and experiments the lab works together with the Chemical Biological Soil Laboratory (CBLB) and the Environmental Risk Assessment Laboratory.

The lab conducts the following analysis for the purposes of teaching and research:

  • nutrients, pH, oxygen, electrical conductivity, transparency etc. as a measurement of the water quality;
  • nitrogen(isotopes), various dissolved gases in water;
  • organic micro-contamination in water, sediment, floating silt, and biota;
  • toxins (also cyanotoxins);
  • acid volatile sulphide/SEM;
  • bio-availability of organic contaminations (polyoxymethylene extraction, Tenax extraction) in sediment or floating silt;
  • lipids in biota;
  • chlorophyll/pheophytin, particle size, microscopic analysis;
  • characteristics of sediment/floating silt (organic nitrogen, soot, CHN).

The Laboratory for Aquatic Ecology also performs experimental and field-related process research:

  • flux experiments (infinite sink set-up);
  • sorption experiments;
  • bioaccumulation experiments;
  • biotesting: phytoplankton, invertebrates, macrophytes (climate chambers and thermostatic baths);
  • phytoplankton in continuous cultures;
  • denitrification tests;
  • determination of phytoplankton, invertebrates, macrophytes;
  • diverse pre-treatment and follow-up treatment for fieldwork, processing field samples;
  • sedimentation and resuspension tests;
  • micro-profiling analysis in sediment.