Introduction: Ecological subsidies as a framework for understanding contaminant fate, exposure, and effects at the land-water interface

By: , and 



Ecologists have long recognized that ecological subsidies (the flow of organic matter, nutrients, and organisms between ecosystems) can strongly affect ecosystem processes and community structure in the recipient ecosystem. Animal movements, organic matter flows, and food web dynamics between linked aquatic and terrestrial systems can also influence contaminant fate, exposure, and effects at the land-water interface. Here and in this book, we develop a broad framework that highlights two important ways that ecological subsidies and contaminants interact. Ecological subsidies from the donor system can drive exposure to recipient systems, and contaminant exposures in the donor system can control subsidies and contaminant fluxes to the recipient systems. In the case of prey movement between ecosystems, subsidies drive exposure when contaminants present in aquatic environments bioaccumulate in the tissues of prey organisms at levels that are relatively non-toxic to the prey themselves. Conversely, exposure in the aquatic system can limit subsidies when pollutants are relatively toxic to prey organisms themselves and the magnitude of the subsidy (i.e., biomass of aquatic insects emerging to the terrestrial environment) is reduced. These effects of contaminants on subsidies are shaped by other global stressors that are ubiquitous in aquatic-riparian ecosystems (e.g., climate and land use change, species extinction and invasion, and eutrophication). As our understanding of these ecological and toxicological processes advances, there are increasing opportunities to make landscape-scale predictions of contaminant and animal fluxes and to integrate this knowledge of aquatic-riparian linkages into managing contaminant risks. Through these efforts to integrate the fields of ecology and ecotoxicology on this subject, we expect to gain greater insight on the ecological effects of contaminants on linked ecosystems as well as the ways in which food web dynamics and ecosystem processes can themselves govern the fate, transport, and exposure to contaminants in the environment.

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Introduction: Ecological subsidies as a framework for understanding contaminant fate, exposure, and effects at the land-water interface
DOI 10.1007/978-3-030-49480-3_1
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description 14 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Contaminants and Ecological Subsidies: The Land-Water Interface
First page 1
Last page 14
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