Research campaign @ ESPOL, Ecuador
In June and July 2019, Dr. Christoph Mensens and PhD researcher Siel Wellens collaborated with Dr. Luis Dominguez, head of the water quality lab at the university ESPOL (Ecuador), to test how benthic organisms cope with changing environmental parameters. Benthic copepods were collected from the tropical mangroves which flank the rivers running through the coastal city of Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador. These urban mangroves are heavily polluted by present and past industry and lack of waste (water) management, amongst others. The experiments conducted at ESPOL focussed on the impact of increased temperatures, elevated cadmium concentrations and the interaction of temperature and cadmium on the survival and fatty acid content of one of the most abundant local copepod species. Results from experiments like these will help unravel complex interactions between organisms at the base of the marine food web and their environment in order to predict the impact of ongoing and future human activities on ecosystem dynamics in the local estuary. This research campaign was made possible by the Global Minds Fund of Ghent University.