Since 2014, Europe allocated €5.5 billion in sustainable watershed management, including Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) of green-blue infrastructure to combat aquatic ecosystem decline and climate change impacts (e.g. flooding, urban heat). Reliable integrated Planning Support Systems (PSS) are needed for strategic NBS implementation, an EU priority. In past decades, many PSS for NBS have emerged. However, standard validation procedures for PSS lack, which limits PSS credibility, uptake and hampers strategic NBS planning. While diverse model performance criteria and corresponding validation procedures have been proposed, no standard approach has been agreed on. My proposal, MOVE-NBS, aims to create such a standard: to build a framework of widely agreed holistic performance criteria and validation procedures for PSS. I have three objectives: 1) systematically enquiring expert preferences for model performance and validation; 2) empirically testing selected procedures; and 3) building a novel evaluation and validation framework for PSS. To advance current state-of-the-art, I propose an innovative approach: 1) Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) with leading PSS and NBS experts from science and practice using online preference elicitation; 2) implementing validation procedures in four test cases of real-world NBS planning projects on three continents, using two PSS developed by myself and project partner; and 3) synthesising findings. Academic impact for PSS and the wider environmental modelling community formally capturing current high-level ideas about model performance and validation into standardised procedures, resulting from wide academic consensus. This will critically improve PSS credibility and comparability. For practice, impacts include improved interpretation and reliability of PSS. These impacts should lead to more strategic siting of NBS, and improved realisation of the multiple benefits of green-blue infrastructure for society.
Micropollutants are a serious problem for drinking water and wastewater due to their adverse human and ecosystem’s health effects. In Europe, their abatement often involves ozonation with O3 and hydroxyl radical abating a wide spectrum of micropollutants. However, the potential formation of carcinogenic disinfection byproducts such as bromate and N-nitrosamines threatens the safety of drinking water/wastewater. Permanganate (Mn(VII)) is a selective oxidant that is widely applied in pre-oxidation steps in water treatment to remove Mn(II), Fe(II) and taste/odor and produces little disinfection byproducts. It has a high reactivity with phenolic compounds. The applicant found that the phenolic moieties in dissolved organic matter (DOM) produce secondary oxidants with permanganate to enhance micropollutant abatement. Furthermore, the applicant discovered that hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) can not only produce secondary oxidants including Mn(VI) and superoxide radical when reacting with permanganate to enhance micropollutant abatement, but also reduce permanganate to MnO2 that can be removed during coagulation and filtration. Moreover, superoxide and hydroxyl radical were observed to be produced by the Mn(II)-H2O2 reaction. As another matrix, bicarbonate (HCO3–/CO32–) facilitated the Mn(II)-H2O2 reaction to achieve a fast micropollutant abatement, which shows a good application potential for reduced water sources by dosing H2O2. This project aims to investigate the kinetics and mechanisms of the enhancing role of DOM, its surrogate compounds and H2O2 on MnO4–-induced micropollutant abatement. Furthermore, the effectiveness of Mn(II)/H2O2(/HCO3–/CO32–) for micropollutant abatement will be investigated. Both processes will provide alternative enhanced oxidative treatment to abate micropollutants in water and wastewater.
Ecological interactions are the backbone of ecosystems and play an essential role in the availability of the services they provide. These interactions are to a large extent dictated by the body size of the interacting organisms. Efforts to understand the origin and maintenance of networks of interacting organisms have considered ecological and evolutionary processes in communities based on species-averaged body size. However, this species-centric approach neglects the often dramatic body size changes of organisms during their development. EcoEvoDevoNetwork will for the first time explore how evolutionary, ecological and developmental processes shape the emergence and maintenance of complex networks of interacting organisms, and will investigate how these processes mediate responses to environmental change. The result will open new vistas in complex eco-evolutionary networks and provide tools to assess and monitor the impacts of human activities on ecosystems. The research proposed here will build on recently developed ecological framework that synthesize size-structured models and trophic network models, and will extend it by incorporating evolutionary processes. This extended framework will for the first time explicitly account for processes at three different levels of biological organization: individual, population and community, in an ecological and evolutionary context. The applicant has a strong background in eco-evolutionary dynamics of size-structured populations, and will benefit from the expertise of the supervisor (Dr. C. Melián) in eco-evolutionary networks and statistical modeling during this project. The excellent supervision, infrastructure and facilities at the host institute will ensure the successful execution of this project and will provide a unique opportunity for the applicant to build a strong career in science.
When invading nutritionally-poor environments, species can expand their functional metabolic niche, by evolving the capacity to synthesize essential compounds, and/or their dietary niche, by evolving new behavioral or morphological traits that enable them to use either novel or rare resources. The relative value of behavioral versus metabolic means for resolving mismatches remains unresolved because these have not been examined concurrently. Omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCPUFA) are important for consumers, but are scarce in freshwaters compared to marine ecosystems, presenting a challenge for species invading freshwaters. The proposed study will be the first to examine both metabolic and behavioral means for regulating nutritional composition and fitness when invading freshwaters from marine ecosystems. We will examine the dietary niche of threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) in terms of diet variation and foraging preferences, and the metabolic functional niche in terms of genotypes and n-3 LCPUFA synthesis ability. FADSEVOL will be especially innovative by building upon the recently-identified genetic basis of variation in stickleback fatty acid metabolism: FADS2 copy number variation. We will characterize the fatty-acid composition of prey and tissues of lineages that vary widely in their FADS2 copy numbers and history of adaption to freshwater (WP1). Next, we will examine foraging preferences of common garden fish for prey that vary in nutritional composition (WP2). Finally, we will evaluate n-3 LCPUFA synthesis ability, FADS2 expression, and life history traits of lineages in common-garden conditions with high or low dietary n-3 LCPUFA availability (WP3). These approaches will allow us to understand variation in both the functional metabolic niche and the dietary niche, providing insights into how foraging behavior and metabolic evolution can enable consumers to invade nutritionally-challenging ecosystems.