Trophic interactions and metal biomagnification in benthic food webs from Sechura Bay and front Illescas Reserved Zone (Peru)

Master Thesis subject (30 ECTS)
Along the Northern coast of Peru, Sechura Bay has recently been impacted by industrial and economical activities. For instance, intensive culturing of Peruvian scallop Argopecten purpuratus (exportations of about 150 millions US$ per year) and mining has been increased in this region. This scenario contributes to the fact that Sechura Bay is currently included in the “Health Risk Assessment in Production Areas of Bivalve Mollusks” of the Regional Government, mainly because of high concentrations of pollutants found in some locations of Sechura Bay. Metals are pollutants that are only semi-annually evaluated in Sechura Bay, and from those few measurements, some have exceed the limits, standards and reference values, either for water, sediment and benthic organisms. Illescas Reserved Zone is a protected area in land and sea , where anthropogenic activities are not permitted, however maritime activities are currently going on, thus possible contamination could have been also posed in that area. This masterthesis will contribute to the following research questions: (1) how are the trophic interactions in benthic organisms of Sechura Bay and front Illescas Reserved Zone? (2) are the metal concentrations in benthic organisms higher than the reference values (“first baseline for this in Peruvian ecosystems”)? (3) are the benthic organisms transferring metals along the food web? In order to achieve the goal of this research, sampling campaigns were conducted during summer of 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 in Peru, and thereafter the laboratory and scientific data analysis in Belgium. As this master thesis will involve multidisciplinary approach, the master student will conduct the metal analyses in University of Antwerp (SPHERE research group) and fatty acid analyses at the Ghent University (Marine Biology research group).
Biology Chemistry Ecology
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contact person last name: 
Loaiza Alamo
Other people involved: 
DE TROCH, Marleen (UGENT) DE BOECK, Gudrun (UA)
Reference Number: RP-47521