Main content area

Assessing the impact of chemical pollution on benthic invertebrates from three different European rivers using a weight-of-evidence approach

Wolfram, G., Höss, S., Orendt, C., Schmitt, C., Adámek, Z., Bandow, N., Großschartner, M., Kukkonen, J.V.K., Leloup, V., López Doval, J.C., Muñoz, I., Traunspurger, W., Tuikka, A., Van Liefferinge, C., von der Ohe, P.C., de Deckere, E.
The Science of the total environment 2012 v.438 pp. 498-509
Caenorhabditis elegans, Chironomus riparius, Danio rerio, Lumbriculus variegatus, Potamopyrgus antipodarum, Vibrio fischeri, chemical analysis, invertebrates, multivariate analysis, pollution, rivers, toxicity testing, watersheds, weight-of-evidence
The aim of this study was to combine different lines of evidence on the impact of chemical pollution on benthic invertebrate communities in three European river basins (Elbe, Scheldt, and Llobregat). The study integrates chemical analyses, a battery of different sediment toxicity tests, and field data from soft-sediment meio- and macrobenthic fauna within a sediment-quality triad in which chironomids, oligochaetes, and nematodes are identified on the species level. The use of TU (toxic units) and msPAF (multi-substance potentially affected fraction) in an approach assessing the chemical impact as well as the integration of sediment toxicity tests with bacteria (Vibrio fischeri), benthic invertebrates (Caenorhabditis elegans, Potamopyrgus antipodarum, Lumbriculus variegatus, Chironomus riparius), and fish embryos (Danio rerio), together with univariate and non-parametric multivariate statistical analyses of the biological data revealed significant differences between unpolluted and polluted sites in all three river basins. To combine the different results obtained in the sediment-quality triad, a scoring system was successfully developed based on a simple algorithm. This system provides an easily understandable scheme for non-experts among decision makers and water managers.