Mudskippers: Human use, ecotoxicology and biomonitoring of mangrove and other soft bottom intertidal ecosystems

Publication Type:
Mangroves: Ecology, Biology and Taxonomy, 2011, pp. 51 - 86
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Mudskippers (Gobiidae: Oxudercinae) are air-breathing gobies, which are widely distributed throughout the West African coast and the Indo-Pacific region. They are closely linked to mangrove and adjacent soft bottom peri-tidal ecosystems. Some species are amongst the best adapted fishes to an amphibious lifestyle. All mudskippers are benthic burrowers in anoxic sediments, and since tidal mudflats are efficient sediment traps, and sinks for nutrients and other chemical compounds, they are constantly in contact with several types of pollutants produced by industrial, agricultural and domestic activities. Due to their natural abundance, considerable resistance to highly polluted conditions, and their benthic habits, mudskippers are frequently used in aquatic ecotoxicological studies. For the same reasons, mudskippers also frequently occur in urbanised or semi-natural coastal areas. Since several species are widely consumed throughout their whole geographical range, these same characteristics also facilitate their aquaculture in several countries, such as Bangladesh, Thailand, Philippines, China, Taiwan and Japan. Even when not directly used, mudskippers are often abundant and are important prey items for many intertidal transient species (marine visitors), and several species of shorebirds. Therefore, there is potential for bioaccumulation of toxicants wherever mudskippers and pollution co-occur. This chapter reviews the ecotoxicology of mudskippers, and their potential for use as biomonitors to better manage coastal swamp ecosystems. The diverse sympatric assemblages of mudskipper species allow for spatially differentiated ecotoxicological investigations along the whole intertidal zone, since adults are often territorial and/or sedentary, and show species-specific patterns of habitat differentiation. A case study is also proposed where this approach could be adopted to address potential health-risk issues in a local population who are regular consumers of mudskippers. © 2011 by Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
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