Cross-ecosystem Impacts of Aquatic Stressors on Terrestrial Food Webs

Research Project: 

RB00CM8.15.1

Project Manager: 

Johanna Kraus
Acid rock drainage reduces adult aquatic insect emergence and metal flux to terrestrial spiders.
Acid rock drainage reduces adult aquatic insect emergence and metal flux to terrestrial spiders. Photo by Johanna Kraus, USGS.

Ecosystem drivers and stressors within aquatic environments, including pollution, can impact wildlife in terrestrial ecosystems at the landscape scale by altering the movement of resources across the aquatic-terrestrial boundary. Furthermore, these stressors can alter the resource base for fisheries, while increasing the reliance of fish on terrestrial resources. The impacts of aquatic stressors on cross-ecosystem linkages are often counter-intuitive and require understanding how stressors alter movement of food and contaminants to predict outcomes of human actions on our natural resources.

The objectives of the project are to test the hypotheses that bats, spiders, fish and birds are impacted by aquatic pollutants through effects on adult insect production and contaminant burdens. We want to expand a predictive framework for understanding the impacts of aquatic pollutants on terrestrial ecosystems to new, emerging and/or environmentally relevant contaminants.