Fish Ecology and Sustainability

Principal Investigator:
Sandra Ramos

The Fish Ecology and Sustainability team main goal is to understand the ecosystem functioning of coastal and estuarine areas, with special emphasis on plankton and fish communities, and how human actions interfere with the ecosystem’s health, and ultimately with the delivery of services, societal goods and benefits. With this overarching aim, we conduct studies to evaluate ecological functions of coastal areas (e.g. nursery, connectivity, refuge, biodiversity), impacts of human pressures (e.g. pollution, habitat loss and degradation) and climate change, and marine ecosystem services, that allow us to provide scientific support to environmental managers and decision-makers.

Marine litter is one of the human activities that our research team is focused on, namely microplastics pollution and litter derived from fisheries, as abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG). The team is particularly interested in investigating microplastics contamination and their potential effects on aquatic organisms, habitats and ecological functions, to improve the scientific understanding of the impacts of these emergent contaminants.

Addressing questions at levels that range from early life stages to whole ecosystems, the team’s research blends different ecological toolkits including field studies, laboratory experimentation, statistical and mechanistic modeling, as well as new approaches for environmental assessments, including participatory approaches to capitalize local stakeholder’s knowledge (Local Ecological Knowledge; Fishers Ecological Knowledge). And, through ongoing collaborations with national and international multidisciplinary teams, we aim to contribute to the development of reliable and efficient tools to address the scientific challenge of promoting conservation and sustainable use of marine ecosystems.


Publications Highlights

Pereira, R., Rodrigues, S.M., Silva, D., Freitas, V., Almeida, C.M.R., Ramos, S. (2023). Microplastics Contamination in large migratory fishes collected in the open Atlantic Ocean. Marine Pollution Bulletin 186, 114454. 

Silva, D.M., Almeida, C.M.R., Guardiola, F., Rodrigues, S.M., Ramos, S. (2022). Optimization of an Analytical Protocol for the Extraction of Microplastics from Seafood Samples with Different Levels of Fat. Molecules 27,5172. 

Cunha J., Cardona, F.S., Bio, A. and Ramos, S. (2021). Importance of Protection Service Against Erosion and Storm Events Provided by Coastal Ecosystems Under Climate Change Scenarios. Front. Mar. Sci. 8:726145. 

Rodrigues, S. M., Elliott, M., Almeida, C. M. R., Ramos, S. (2021). Microplastics and plankton: Knowledge from laboratory and field studies to distinguish contamination from pollution. Journal of Hazardous Materials,417, 126057. 

Rodrigues, S.M., Almeida, C.M.R., Silva, D., Cunha, J., Antunes, C., Freitas, V., Ramos, S. (2019). Microplastics contamination in an urban estuary: abundance and distribution of microplastics and fish larvae in the Douro estuary. Science of the Total Environment, 659: 1071-1081.