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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry, and Earth Sciences

Animal Ecology I: Prof. Dr. Christian Laforsch, Prof. Dr. Heike Feldhaar

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Hannes ImhofDr.

Hannes Imhof


At Animal Ecology I until 12/2017
e-Mail: imhof(at)uni-bayreuth.de

Plastic particles in aquatic ecosysystems: occurence and influence to aquatic organisms 

Funded by Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes and DFG, PhD Student Hannes Imhof, Advisor: C. Laforsch

The pollution of marine environments with plastic waste is well documented since the last years. High amounts of particles have been accumulated in the sediments and in the pelagic zone and are ingested by many organisms. Therefore the plastic accumulates in the food chain and is getting a risk for humans and the environments. Nevertheless the impact on aquatic ecosystems is not yet fully understood. Moreover, only a few studies are known concerning the amount of discharged plastic particles to freshwater environments. There is a high requirement for scientific studies to examine the potential endangerment by plastic particles of these ecosystems. The Goal of this interdisciplinary study is to quantify the pollution with plastic particles of German and European lakes and streams and to assess the distribution pattern within the waters with the help of Raman-Microspectroscopy (RM). A first important step in order to assess the consequences of plastic debris in aquatic ecosystems we  developed a reliable, verified and standardized method to quantify the amount of plastic particles (Munich Plastic Sediment Separator, MPSS). In addition we will test for influences to freshwater environments. We will use chosen species as examples for different functional groups and test for accumulation of plastic particles in the organisms and furthermore for influences to life-history, reproduction and mortality. Next to sophisticated histological techniques, Raman-Microspectroscopy (RM) is used and further developed as an efficient method to show the ingestion and possible accumulation of plastic particles in organisms and organs in-vivo. This will help to foster studies quantifying the increasing contamination of aquatic environments with plastic particles, which is a crucial prerequisite for future risk assessment and management strategies.



Peer-reviewed Journals:

Imhof, Schmid, Niessner, Ivleva & Laforsch, Current Biology (2013). Beyond the ocean: Contamination of a subalpine lake with microplastic particles. 

Imhof, Schmid, Niessner, Ivleva & Laforsch., L & O Methods (2012). A novel highly efficient method for the quantification of plastic particles in sediments of aquatic environments.

Sigl, Imhof, Settles, Laforsch, Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology (2013). A novel, non-invasive and in vivo method to determine morphometric data in starfish.  

Book Chapter:

Laforsch, C., Imhof, H., Sigl, R., Settles, M., Heß, M., Wanninger, A. (2012). Applications of Computational 3D-Modeling in Organismal Biology in Alexandru C., ed. Modeling and Simulation in Engineering: Intech.


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