Main content area

Evaluating the suitability of Hydrobia ulvae as a test species for sediment metal toxicity testing applying a tissue residue approach to metal mixtures in laboratory and field exposures

Campana, Olivia, Rodríguez, Antonio, Blasco, Julián
Chemosphere 2013 v.91 pp. 1136-1145
adsorption, bioassays, bioavailability, cadmium, copper, desorption, estuaries, prediction, sediments, sublethal effects, toxicity testing, zinc, Spain
A major weakness in evaluating the suitability of a biomonitor organism is the poor ability to predict the variability of the bioavailability of metals from measured environmental concentrations. In this study, the intertidal gastropod Hydrobia ulvae was used to evaluate its suitability as a test organism for assessing sediment metal toxicity. Toxicity tests were run with sediments spiked with copper, cadmium and zinc applied both as single metal and as a mixture to investigate toxicological interactions evaluating different lethal and sublethal effects. Dose–response relationships were constructed based both on tissue residue approach and particulate metal concentrations. Because metal-spiked sediments used in routine toxicity tests often do not exhibit the same adsorption/desorption kinetics as the natural sediments, the laboratory results were compared to 10-d bioassays conducted with natural field sediments collected from the Guadalete estuary (SW Spain). Highly significant correlations between tissue residue concentrations and particulate metal concentrations were found for all metal-spiked or field-collected and demonstrated that: (i) H. ulvae readily accumulated copper and cadmium in response to contamination and (ii) dietary uptake was determined to be the most significant route of metal exposure. The comparison of the modeled tissue residue-response curve developed from the mixture tests was in good agreement with the results from the bioassay conducted with field sediments and strongly demonstrated that H. ulvae is also a suitable test organism for assessing copper sediment toxicity. In contrast, the dose–response curve expressed as a function of total particulate metal concentrations would fail in predicting effect, erroneously assessing higher metal toxicity.