Pollution is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services. The Cardinale lab has shown that the composition of species in biological communities can be manipulated to maximize the removal of pollutants from freshwater ecosystems to help clean-up water.

In 2011, Cardinale published a paper in Nature showing that streams managed to maximize biodiversity of algae are more efficient at removing nutrient pollutants like nitrates from the water than less diverse systems. Soon after, he extended this work to consider emerging contaminants, and showed that certain combinations of species could be manipulated to maximize removal of titanium-dioxide nanoparticles from stream water.

Example publications

Cardinale, B. J., TR. Bier, and HC. Kwan. 2012. Effects of TiO2 nanoparticles on the growth and metabolism of three species of freshwater algae. Journal of Nanoparticle Research, 14:913-923 (doi:10.1007/s11051-012-0913-6).

Cardinale, B. J. 2011. Biodiversity improves water quality through niche partitioning. Nature, 472:86-89 (doi:10.1038/nature09904).



  • Department Head, Ecosystem Science and Management