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Although the UK and Europe have made vast progress in managing pollution effects on rivers, significant problems still remain. One of the most important arises where endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) from wastewater treatment (WWTWs) induce gonadal feminisation in male fish and reduce the ability for fertilisation. Effects also propagate through food webs, and we showed recently that a specialist river bird, the Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) accumulates EDCs in its eggs potentially affecting growth, development and sex ratios. We now know that the suite of EDCs affecting Dippers varies between environments (e.g. organochlorine pesticides in rural streams; PCBs/PBDEs in urban streams) 2, but little is known about on routes of food-web transfers and trophic cascades for EDCs from diffuse or point sources in UK freshwaters.
This studentship will investigate trophic cascades of EDCs from WWTW effluents and diffuse discharges (eg agriculture) among invertebrates, fish (bullheads and brown trout,Salmo trutta) and birds (Dipper) in contrasting catchments - The Tamar (south-west England) and the wider Severn Catchment.The latter includes the rural Usk and Wye, along with the urban Taff, Rhondda, Rymney and Ebbw systems.