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Influence of Size on Fate and Ecological Effects of Kepone in Physical Models

Perez, Kenneth T., Morrison, George E., Davey, Earl W., Lackie, Neal F., Soper, Albert E., Blasco, Richard J., Winslow, Donald L., Johnson, Roxanne L., Murphy, Peter G., Heltshe, James F.
Ecological applications 1991 v.1 no.3 pp. 237-248
algae, benthic organisms, biomass, bioturbation, containers, fouling, grazing intensity, pesticides, physical models, phytoplankton, risk, risk assessment, seawater, sediments, surface area, toxicity, turbulent flow, zooplankton
Three different sizes of marine microcosms were used to study the influence of two features of spatial scale on the chemical fate and ecological effects of the pesticide Kepone. Increasing the size of microcosms reduced the ratio of wall surface area to volume of contained sea water, but increased the number of benthic species due to increasing sample size. Other features of spatial scale, such as water turbulence, water turnover, etc., were held constant. Intact water—column and benthic communities from a north—temperate marine system were coupled together in 9.1—, 35.0—, and 140.O—L containers. Kepone at 20.4 nmol/L was added to these microcosm systems over a 30—d period. A 3 x 2 factorial design was used to discern the effects of size and Kepone. In the absence of Kepone the phytoplankton community exhibited excessive growth relative to the field system for all system sizes. Growth was directly related to the size of microcosms. In addition, the time required to achieve maximum algal biomass was also directly related to size. Release of a growth—stimulating compound(s) from fouling organisms settling on the microcosm walls and size—dependent increases in benthic species provided the best explanation for the observed phytoplankton dynamics. Addition of Kepone indirectly increased phytoplankton densities by reducing through toxic effects, the grazing pressure of zooplankton. Because this effect and mechanism was dependent upon the size of the system, the sensitivity of future perturbation studies may be enhanced by producing similar or related variations in system size. The concentration of Kepone in surficial sediments was also size dependent. Since the average concentrations of Kepone in all water columns were statistically equivalent, these findings were the result of sediment bioturbation coupled with preferential partitioning of Kepone from liquid to the solid, organic phase of sediments. Ecological risk assessments based upon data derived from these systems are therefore dependent upon size. Furthermore, the smaller the size, the greater the underestimate in sediment exposure and the ecological risks of Kepone.