Environmental Contamination and Ecological Health

Research Area: Environmental impacts - oil spills, bioremediation, human impacts

Environmental Contamination and Ecological Health

At ERI, we engage in a diverse range of research which looks to develop novel analytical tools/techniques to assess and quantify the impact of stressors on wild biota at the molecular, individual and population level.

Utilising our state of the art analytical chemistry facilities, we are particularly interested in studying how contaminants (heavy metals, emerging organic contaminants, micro-plastics) act as stressors; but also, how a range of natural or environmental co-stressors (climate change, parasites) affect biota. We seek to develop and employ a range of spatiotemporal and risk modelling approaches within our research.

We work on projects that are very much grounded in the environment on our doorstep, the Scottish Highlands, such as considering anthropogenic impacts on local water quality in marine and freshwater systems. We also conduct a significant proportion of our research overseas. One on-going international project, considers the impact of pharmaceuticals (specifically non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) on old world vulture populations in Asia.

We focus on multi and interdisciplinary research which aims to quantify the presence of anthropogenic contaminants and stressors within the natural environment.

We consider both recognised and emerging environmental contaminants:

Plastics, micro-plastics
Pharmaceuticals, personal care products, illicit drugs and legal highs
Biocides – rodenticides, pesticides, etc
Heavy metals and metalloids – Pb, As, Cd

Furthermore, we seek to understand the fate and effects of contaminants and stressors on biota and within ecosystems, focusing on:

Contaminant uptake and disposition in biota
Metabolism and speciation of contaminants
Sub-lethal (chronic) effects and biomarker approaches
Interactions with, and effects of, natural and environmental stressors – parasites, climate change