Chronic sublethal sediment toxicity testing using the estuarine amphipod, Melita plumulosa (Zeidler): evaluation using metal-spiked and field-contaminated sediments.

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Journal Article
Environ Toxicol Chem, 2006, 25 (7), pp. 1887 - 1898
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The present study describes the development of a 42-d chronic sublethal sediment toxicity test using the estuarine amphipod Melita plumulosa (Zeilder). This test was shown to predict the toxicity of metal-contaminated sediments previously found to adversely affect benthic community structure. Metals initially were tested individually by spiking reference sediment under conditions that ensured low metal concentrations in pore waters. Fertility was the most sensitive sublethal endpoint for copper- and zinc-spiked sediments, whereas cadmium-spiked sediments were not toxic to M. plumulosa, despite their high bioaccumulation of cadmium. The 42-d chronic sediment test was reproducible; however, variation between reference sediments collected from the same field location over time or from different locations did affect the reproduction of M. plumulosa. Sensitivity of M. plumulosa to metal-spiked sediments suggested that the interim sediment-quality guidelines (ISQGs) were too conservative. However, toxicity testing of sediments collected from field sites known to affect community assemblages significantly (p < 0.001) reduced the fertility of M. plumulosa, reflecting benthic community survey results and supporting the ISQGs. Bioaccumulation of cadmium and copper by M. plumulosa was elevated following chronic exposure to both laboratory and field-contaminated sediments; however, zinc bioaccumulation could be measured only in M. plumulosa exposed to field-contaminated sediments.
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