Models for Assessing and Forecasting the Impact of Environmental Key Pollutants on
Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems and Biodiversity

EU Logo Logo 6 FP

Coordinator: Dr. Werner Brack
Deputy coordinator: Dr. Mechthild Schmitt-Jansen
Project Office: Dr. Michaela Hein
Project duration: 1st February 2005 to 31st January 2010


New RTN including open PhD and Postdoctoral positions started
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New "Coordination Action on Risk Based Management of River Basins"
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The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) demands for a good ecological status of European surface waters by 2015.

One of the driving forces for an insufficient ecological status and reduced biodiversity of freshwater and marine ecosystems is chemical stress due to environmental pollutants. The WFD classifies the quality status of aquatic ecosystems based on traditional hydromorphological, physico-chemical, biological parameters and priority pollutant (PP) concentrations. This procedure allows a rough quality assessment. However, a reliable diagnosis, prediction and forecasting of toxic impacts on aquatic ecosystems and an efficient mitigation of toxic risks demand for an identification of the respective stressors and for reliable cause-effect relationships between chemical pollution and biodiversity decline. To date severe gaps of knowledge impede the evaluation and mitigation of the causes for an insufficient ecological status in many aquatic ecosystems. MODELKEY is designed to bridge these knowledge gaps.

MODELKEY comprises a multidisciplinary approach aiming at developing interlinked and verified predictive modelling tools as well as state-of-the-art effect-assessment and analytical methods generally applicable to European freshwater and marine ecosystems:

  • to assess, forecast, and mitigate the risks of traditional and recently evolving pollutants on fresh water and marine ecosystems and their biodiversity at a river basin and adjacent marine environment scale,
  • to provide early warning strategies on the basis of sub-lethal effects in vitro and in vivo,
  • to provide a better understanding of cause-effect-relationships between changes in biodiversity and the ecological status, as addressed by the Water Framework Directive (WFD), and the impact of environmental pollution as causative factor,
  • to provide methods for state-of-the-art risk assessment and decision support systems for the selection of the most efficient management options to prevent effects on biodiversity and to prioritise contamination sources and contaminated sites,
  • to strengthen the scientific knowledge on an European level in the field of impact assessment of environmental pollution on aquatic ecosystems and their biodiversity by extensive training activities and knowledge dissemination to stakeholders and the scientific community.

The project is funded by the EC 6th Framework programme in
"Sustainable Development, Global Change and Ecosystems" (Contract-No. 511237 (GOCE))

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