Development and application of a rapid amphipod reproduction test for sediment-quality assessment

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Journal Article
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 2009, 28 (6), pp. 1244 - 1254
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Melita plumulosa is an epibenthic, detritivorous amphipod native to eastern Australia that has been adopted as a test organism for toxicity evaluations of contaminated estuarine sediments. In the present study, a 13-d amphipod reproduction test was developed that encompasses gametogenesis, fertilization, and embryo development before hatching. The primary endpoints for the test are fecundity (measured as the number of embryos per individual surviving female) and a fecundity index (fecundity multiplied by the stage of embryo development). This new test has been employed to scrutinize the sediments from a metal-contaminated coastal lagoon. Lake Macquarie (NSW, Australia) is a large, saltwater lagoon that has received metal pollution over many decades, leading to a concentration gradient of trace metals, including Pb, Zn, Cd, and Cu, in the sediments. Within one of the northern bays (Warners Bay), the concentrations of these metals either border on or exceed sediment quality guideline values prescribed by Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality. In trials with the 13-d amphipod reproduction test, Warners Bay sediments significantly reduced fecundity in the test species. Subsequent tests with clean sediments spiked singly with Pb, Zn, or Cu indicated that no single metal was responsible for the observed toxicity in the field sediments. However, sediments spiked with various combinations of Pb, Zn, Cd, and Cu indicated that Zn in combination with one or more of the other metals was responsible for the reproductive toxicity observed in Warners Bay sediments. In all these tests, measured metal concentrations in overlying water and pore water were low, thus confirming that the observed effects on reproduction could be attributed to dietary exposure to metals. © 2009 SETAC.
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