Trophic interactions are fundamental in the regulation of ecological communities. While research has made significant advances in elucidating the relationship between natural environmental variation and biotic interactions, the effects of anthropogenic stressors on these ecological processes is relatively under-studied. This is an important requirement in a world under extensive and growing human pressure. Among anthropogenicstressors, metal contamination is a global problem. Human activities exponentially increase the concentration of metals in coastal regions, which can be toxic and cause ecological problems. Metal contamination may alters interactions between consumers and prey, with potential effects on community regulation and ecosystem functioning. However, the relationship between contamination and trophic interactions remains poorly understood. The main objective of this proposal is to evaluate the effect of metal contamination (copper) on the trophic interaction between key rocky intertidal invertebrates (whelk Nucella lapillus and barnacle Semibalanus balanoides) through field and lab-based manipulative experiments. We will develop this research in collaboration with a world leading research group in marine ecology, led by Prof. Stuart Jenkins, at Bangor University (Wales). This proposal describes original research of high interest to the scientific community and environmental managers, to be held at a center of excellence with a consolidated partnership.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: