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A mesocosm is an outdoor experimental system of ponds and streams whose physical dimensions and basic water chemistry are known and under controlled conditions so you can examine the natural environment. Mesocosms chararacteristically include both natural species assemblages (e.g. invertebrates, algae and macrophytes) in addition to structure populations of vertebrates such as fish. In this way mesocosm studies provide a link between field surveys and highly controlled laboratory experiments and tend to be medium-sized to large (e.g., aquatic mesocosm range: 1 to > 10,000 litres) and contain multiple trophic levels of interacting organisms. In contrast to laboratory experiments, mesocosm studies are normally conducted outdoors in order to incorporate natural variation (e.g., diel cycles). The assessment of the risk of chemicals to aquatic resources has now evolved to include an array of toxicity, fate and exposure studies conducted under both laboratory and field conditions.
Extensive mesocosm studies have been conducted to evaluate how organisms or communities might react to environmental change, through deliberate manipulation of environmental variables, such as increased temperature, carbon dioxide or pH levels. Using a mesocosm approach in regulatory risk assessment maximises ecological relevance and consequently reduces the need to use high safety assessment factors.
The e-flow mesocosm will be the first fully flow-through mesocosm exposure facility in Europe.
Each experimental unit comprises of a 10m stream (2m width, 30cm depth) each with capture ponds. The retention time is variable allowing controlled pulse dosimetry. It will be designed, built and managed to meet the requirements of the EFSA 2013 Guidance*. This will standardise the output, assisting in ease of data interpretation. It will include sufficient replication to meet the requirement for Level 1 Reliability Index (Ri1) graded experiments. It will provide capacity to run up to three concurrent studies each utilising up to 30 experimental units (90 units available in total). The e-flow mesocosm will contain and support the diversity necessary to clearly demonstrate safety of sensitive aquatic organisms. A series of naturalised ponds, streams and wetlands will provide a diverse supply of plants and invertebrates. Alongside this fantastic facilities, we are able to provide all supporting requirements including extensive analytical capability, Quality Assurance (GLP), and trained ecologists.
*Guidance on Tiered Risk Assessment for Plant Protection Products for Aquatic Organisms in Edge- of- Field Surface Waters (EFSA, 2013)
Being the first fully flow-though stream/ ditch system it will have the capability to perform controlled pulse doses for accurate realistic-to-worst-case exposures
It will have sufficient replication to reduce variation and produce reportable data against minimum detectable differences for statistical robustness
It will be continuously supplied with high grade ground water and set in a high diversity wetland to ensure sufficient diversity and allow eco-recovery
With static pond systems, they tend to be too variable, have insufficient dose control and inadequate diversity causing excessive complication in data interpretation
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