Uni von A-Z
Universität Bielefeld > Faculty of Biology > Animal Ecology > Staff

Sebastian Höss

Sebastian Höss  
Room: VHF-149
Phone: 0521 106 2813
email: hoess@ecossa.de


Short CV


Since 2016 Scientific assistant at Bielefeld University (Department Animal Ecology)
Since 2005 Board member of the Institute of Biodiversity– Network in Regensburg
Seit 1999 Free-lancing biologist; CEO of the ecotoxicological contract and research labaroatory Ecossa (Ecological Sediment and Soil Assessment) in Starnberg
1995-2001 PhD at the Humboldt University Berlin; Topic: Standardization oft he sediment toxicity test with Caenorhabditis elegans (Nematoda) – Influence of grain size distribution and organic material.
1989-1995 Studies in Biology and Chemistry at the Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich (Diploma and Teaching Degree)


Research interests

My scientific focus lies on ecotoxicology, a relatively new research field, that includes several disciplines, such as ecology, toxicology and chemistry. Ecotoxicology wants to assess harmful effects of chemicals on ecosystems, by explaining interactions between toxicants, environment and living organisms and mechanisms of toxic effects. Moreover, in the field of ecotoxicology methods have to be developed which can be applied in environmental risk assessment to assess toxic effects.

Nematodes that represent a central research element in the group of Walter Traunspurger, are excellently suitable organisms for ecotoxicological research and risk assessment due to several reasons: They have a high ecological relevance (key positions in food webs; ubiquitous occurrence) and show very high individual densities (up to 40 million individuals/m2). Moreover, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is one of the best studied metazoan organisms and, thus, is an excellent model organisms for conducting standardized experiments.

There, in the last 20 years, we were able to develop nematode-based tools for prospective and retrospective risk assessment in freshwater sediments and soils: A standardized bioassay for assessing the toxicity of chemicals in water, sediment and soil (DIN/ISO-Guideline ISO 10872:2012); NemaSPEAR[%]-index for assessing in-situ nematode communities in freshwater sediments; laboratory microcosm systems for a controlled effect assessment on community level. In past and present projects, we could assess the toxicity of many different classes of toxicants (metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides, nanoparticles, microplastic) on nematodes at different ecological levels.



Journal articles (peer-reviewed)


Haegerbaeumer, A.; Höss, S.; Heininger, P. & Traunspurger, W. (2018): Response of nematode communities to metals and PAHs in freshwater microcosms. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 148: 244-253.


Haegerbaeumer, A., Höss, S., Heininger, P. & Traunspurger, W. (2017): Is Caenorhabditis elegans representative of freshwater nematode species in toxicity testing? Environmental Science and Pollution Research

Bielská L, Kah M, Sigmund G, Hofmann T, Höss S (2017) Bioavailability and toxicity of pyrene in soils upon biochar and compost addition. Science of the Total Environment 595: 132–140.

Hägerbäumer A, Höss S, Ristau K, Claus E, Heininger P, Traunspurger W (2017). The use of meiofauna in freshwater sediment assessment: Structural and functional responses of meiobenthic communities to metal and organics contamination. Ecological Indicators 78, 512–525.

Höss S, Heininger P, Claus E, Möhlenkamp C, Brinke M, Traunspurger, W (2017) Validating the NemaSPEAR[%]-index for assessing sediment quality regarding chemical-induced effects on benthic communities in rivers. Ecological Indicators 73:52–60.


Fischer F, Böhm L, Höss S, Möhlenkamp C, Claus E, Düring RA, Schäfer S (2016). Passive dosing in chronic toxicity tests with the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Environmental Science and Technology 50, 9708–9716.

Hägerbäumer A, Höss S, Ristau K, Claus E, Möhlenkamp C, Heininger P, Traunspurger W (2016) A comparative approach using ecotoxicological methods from single-species bioassays to model ecosystems. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 35, 2987–2997.


Hägerbäumer, A., Höss, S., Heininger, P., Traunspurger, W., 2015. Experimental Studies with Nematodes in Ecotoxicology : An Overview. Journal of Nematology 47, 11–27.

Höss S, Frank-Fahle B, Lüders T, Traunspurger W (2015) Response of bacteria and meiofauna to iron oxide colloids in sediments of freshwater microcosms. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 34:2660–2669.

Höss S, Fritzsche A, Meyer C, Bosch J, Meckenstock RU, Totsche KU (2015) Size- and composition-dependent toxicity of synthetic and soil-derived Fe oxide colloids for the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Environmental Science and Technology 49:544–552.

Höss S, Reiff N, Ottermanns R, Pagel-Wieder S, Dohrmann AB, Tebbe CC, Traunspurger W (2015). Risk assessment of the cultivation of a stacked Bt-maize variety (MON89034 × MON88017) for nematode communities. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 91: 109–118.


Höss S, Reiff N, Nguyen H T, Jehle J A, Hermes H, Traunspurger W (2014) Small-scale microcosms to detect chemical induced changes in soil nematode communi-ties – Effects of crystal proteins and Bt-maize plant material. Science of the Total Environment 472:662–671.


Feiler U, Höss S, Ahlf W, Gilberg D, Hammers-Wirtz M, Hollert H, Meller M, Neumann-Hensel H, Ottermanns R, Seiler T-B, Spira D, Heininger P (2013): Sediment contact tests as a tool for the assessment of sediment quality in German waters. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 32:144–155.

Höss S, Menzel R, Gessler F, Nguyen HT, Jehle JA, Traunspurger W (2013) Effects of insecticidal crystal proteins (Cry proteins) produced by genetically modified maize (Bt maize) on the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Environmental Pollution 2013, 178:147–151.

Ruf A, Beylich A, Blick T, Buechs W, Glante F, Höss S, Ross-Nikoll M, Ruess L, Russell DJ, Römke J, Seitz H, Theißen B, Toschki A, Weinmann C, Zueghart W (2013) Soil organisms as an essential element of a monitoring plan to identify the effects of GMO cultivation. Requirements – Methodology – Standardisation. BIORISK –Biodiversity and Ecosystem Risk Assessment 8:73–87



Höss S, Ahlf W, Bergtold M, Bluebaum-Gronau E, Brinke M, Donnevert G, Menzel R, Möhlenkamp C, Ratte HT, Traunspurger W, von Danwitz B, Pluta HJ (2012) Interlaboratory comparison of a standardized toxicity test using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (ISO 10872). Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 31:1525–1535.

Traunspurger W, Höss S, Witthöft-Mühlmann A, Wessels M, Güde H (2012): Meiobenthic community patterns of oligotrophic and deep Lake Constance in relation to water depth and nutrients. Fundamental and Applied Limnology, 180:233–248.

Wolfram G, Höss S, Orendt C, Schmitt C, Adamek Z, Bandow N, Großschartner M, Kukkonen JVK, Leloup V, Lopez-Doval J, Munoz I, Traunspurger W, Tuikka A, Van Liefferingen C, Von der Ohe PC, De Deckere E (2012): Assessing the impact of chemical pollution on benthic invertebrates from three different European rivers using a weight-of-evidence approach. Science of the Total Environment, 438:498–509.



Franzen J, Menzel R, Höss S, Claus E, Steinberg CEW (2011) Organic carbon source in formulated sediments influences life traits and gene expression of Caenorhabditis elegans. Ecotoxicology 21:557-568

Höss S, Claus E, Von der Ohe P, Brinke M, Güde H, Heininger P, Traunspurger W (2011) Nematode species at risk – a metric to assess pollution in soft sediments of freshwaters, Environment International 37:940-949.

Höss S, Nguyen-Thu H, Menzel R, Pagel-Wieder S, Miethling-Graff R, Tebbe CC, Jehle J, Traunspurger W (2011) Assessing the risk posed to free-living soil nematodes by a genetically modified maize (event Mon88017) expressing an insecticidal protein (Cry3Bb1). Science of the Total Environment 409:2674-2684.

Höss S, Schlottmann K, Traunspurger W (2011) Toxicity of ingested cadmium to the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Environmental Science and Technology 45:10219-10225.

Tuikka A, Schmitt C, Höss S, Bandow N, Von der Ohe P C , De Zwart D, De Deckere E, Streck G, Mothes S, Van Hattum B, Kocan A, Brix R, Brack W, Barcelo D, Sormunen A J, Kukkonen J (2011) Toxicity assessment of sediments from three European river basins using a sediment contact test battery. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 74:123-131.

Brinke M, Ristau K, Bergtold M, Höss S, Claus E, Heininger P, Traunspurger W (2011) Using meiofauna to assess pollutants in freshwater sediments – a microcosm study with cadmium. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 30:427-438.



Brinke M, Höss S, Fink G, Ternes T A, Heininger P, Traunspurger W (2010) Assessing effects of the pharmaceutical ivermectin on meiobenthic communities using freshwater microcosms. Aquatic Toxicology 99:126-137.

Höss S, Ahlf W, Fahnenstich C, Gilberg D, Hollert H, Melbye K, Meller M, Hammers-Wirtz M, Heininger P, Neumann-Hensel H, Ottermanns R, Ratte H T, Seiler T B, Spira D, Weber J, Feiler U (2010) Variability of freshwater sediment contact tests in sediments with low-level anthropogenic contamination – Determination of toxicity thresholds. Environmental Pollution 158:2999-3010.

Lopez-Doval J, Großschartner M, Höss S, Orendt C, Traunspurger W, Wolfram G, Munoz I, 2010. Invertebrate communities in soft sediments along a pollution gradient in a Mediterranean river (Llobregat, NE Spain). Limnetica 29:311-322.

Wolfram G, Orendt C, Höss S, Großschartner M, Adamek Z, Jurajda P, Traunspurger W, De Deckere E, Van Liefferingen C. (2010) The macroinvertebrate and nematode community from soft sediments in impounded sections of the river Elbe near Pardubice, Czech Republic. Lauterbornia 69:87-105.



Heininger P, Höss S, Claus C, Pelzer J, Traunspurger W (2007) Nematode communities in contaminated river sediments. Environmental Pollution, 146, 64-76

Höss S, Weltje, L (2007) Endocrine disruption in nematodes – A review of effects and mechanisms. Ecotoxicology 16, 15-28.

Comber S D W, Rule, K L, Conrad A U, Höss S, Webb S, Marshall S (2008) Bioaccumulation and toxicity of a cationic surfactant (DODMAC) in sediment dwelling freshwater invertebrates. Environmental Pollution 153:184-191

Höss S, Arndt M, Baumgarte S, Tebbe C, Nguyen-Thu H, Jehle J (2008) Effects of transgenic corn and Cry1Ab toxin on the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 70, 334-340.

Höss S, Jänsch S, Junker T, Moser T, Römbke J (2009) Assessing the toxicity of contaminated soils using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as test organism. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 72, 1811-1818.

Menzel, R, Swain S C, Höss S, Claus E, Menzel S., Steinberg, C E W, Reifferscheid G, Stürzenbaum S R (2009) Gene expression profiling to characterize sediment toxicity – a pilot study using Caenorhabditis elegans whole genome microarrays. BMC Genomics, 10, 160-174.



Höss S, Traunspurger W, Severin G F, Jüttner I, Pfister G, Schramm K-W (2004) Influence of 4-nonylphenol on the structure of nematode communities in freshwater microcosms. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 23:1268-1275.

Comber S D W, Conrad A U, Höss S, Webb S, Marshall S (2006) Chronic toxicity of sediment-associated linear alkylbenzene sulphonates (LAS) to freshwater benthic organisms. Environmental Pollution 144:661-668



Steinberg C E W, Haitzer M, Höss S, Pflugmacher S, Welker M (2000) Regulatory impact of humic substances in freshwater. Verhandlungen des Internationalen Verein Limnologie 27:2488-2491

Höss S, Bergtold M, Haitzer M, Traunspurger W, Steinberg C E W (2001) Refractory dissolved organic matter can influence the reproduction of Caenorhabditis elegans (Nematoda). Freshwater Biologie 46:1-10.

Höss S, Henschel T, Haitzer M, Traunspurger W, Steinberg C (2001) Toxicity of cadmium to Caenorhabditis elegans (Nematoda) in whole sediment and porewater - the ambiguous role of organic matter. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 20:2794-2801

Gerhardt A, Schmidt S, Höss S (2002) Measurement of movement patterns of Caenorhabditis elegans (Nematoda) with the Multispecies Freshwater Biomonitor® (MFB) - a potential new method to study a behavioral toxicity parameter in sediments. Environmental Pollution 120:513-516

Höss S, Jüttner I, Traunspurger W, Pfister G, Schramm K-W, Steinberg C (2002) 4-Nonylphenol can enhance the reproduction of Caenorhabditis elegans (Nematoda). Environmental Pollution 120:169-172.

Steinberg C E W, Höss S, Brüggemann R (2002) Further evidence that humic substances have the potential to modulate the reproduction of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. International Review of Hydrobiology 87:121-133


1997 - 1999

Höss S, Haitzer M, Traunspurger W, Gratzer H, Ahlf W, Steinberg C (1997) Influence of particle size distribution and content of organic matter on the toxicity of copper in bioassays using Caenorhabditis elegans (Nematoda). Water Air and Soil Pollution 99:689-695

Steinberg C E W, Haitzer M, Höss S, Lorenz R, Brüggemann R, Burnison B K (1997) Change of bioconcentration and effect of pesticides in the presence of humic substances. UWSF-Zeitschrift für Umweltwissenschaften und Ökotoxikologie 9:64-68

Traunspurger W, Haitzer M, Höss S, Beier S, Ahlf W, Steinberg C (1997) Ecotoxicological assessment of aquatic sediments with Caenorhabditis elegans (Nematoda) - A method for testing in liquid medium and whole sediment samples. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 16:245-250

Haitzer M, Höss S, Traunspurger W, Steinberg C E W (1998) Effects of dissolved organic matter (DOM) on the bioconcentration of organic chemicals in aquatic organisms - a review. Chemosphere 37:1335-1362

Haitzer M, Burnison B K, Höss S, Traunspurger W, Steinberg C E W (1999) Effects of quantity, quality, and contact time of dissolved organic matter on bioconcentration of Benzo[a]pyrene in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 18:459-465

Haitzer M, Höss S, Traunspurger W, Steinberg C (1999) Relationship between concentration of dissolved organic matter (DOM) and the effect of DOM on the bioconcentration of benzo[a]pyrene. Aquatic Toxicology 45:147-158

Höss S, Haitzer M, Traunspurger W, Steinberg C E W (1999) Growth and fertility of Caenorhabditis elegans (Nematoda) in unpolluted freshwater sediments - response to particle size distribution and organic content. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 18:2921-2925


Book chapters

Traunspurger, W, Höss, S (2009) Sedimente als Lebensraum. In Hupfer M, Calmano W, Klapper H, Wilken R D (eds) Handbuch Angewandte Limnologie. Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, Germany, Kap. IV.8.2.

Danovaro R, Gambi C, Höss S, Mirto S, Traunspurger W, Zullini A (2009) Case studies using nematode assemblage analysis in aquatic habitats. In Wilson, M A, Kakouli-Duarte, T (eds) Nematodes as Environmental Indicators, CABI Publishing, Cambridge, MA, USA, pp 146-171.

Höss S, Williams, P L (2009) Ecotoxicity testing with nematodes. In Wilson, M A, Kakouli-Duarte, T (eds) Nematodes as Environmental Indicators, CABI Publishing, Cambridge, MA, USA, pp 208-224.

Höss S, Traunspurger W, Zullini A (2006) Freshwater nematodes in environmental science. In Eyualem-Abebe, Traunspurger W, Andrassy I (eds) Freshwater Nematodes - Ecology and Taxonomy. CABI Publishing, Cambridge, MA, USA, pp 144-162.

Höss S, Traunspurger W (2003) Nematodes. In Breure A M, Markert B, Zechmeister H (eds) Bioindicators/Biomonitors - Principles, Assessments, Concepts. Elsevier, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, pp 529-554.

Haitzer M, Höss S, Traunspurger W, Kukkonen J, Burnison B K, Steinberg C E W (2002) Biological effects of dissolved organic matter. In Frimmel F H, Abbt-Braun G, Heumann K G, Hock B, Lüdemann H D, Spiteller M (eds) Refractory Organic Substances In The Environment. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY, USA, pp 361-381.

Steinberg C E W, Pflugmacher S, Wiegand C, Paul A, Höss S, Haitzer M (2001) Die vernachlässigte ökologische Regulation in Binnengewässern: Direkte und indirekte Interaktionen von Huminstoffen mit Organismen. In Fränzle, O., Müller, F., Schröder, W. (eds) Handbuch Umweltwissenschaften. Ecomed, Landsberg, Germany.