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Macrobenthos functional trait responses to heavy metal pollution gradients in a temperate lagoon

Hu, Chengye, Dong, Jianyu, Gao, Lijia, Yang, Xiaolong, Wang, Zhan, Zhang, Xiumei
Environmental pollution 2019 v.253 pp. 1107-1116
Polychaeta, bioavailability, coastal water, environmental factors, heavy metals, pollution, seagrasses, China
Biological traits analysis (BTA) can help identify the effect of various contaminants on functional trait composition of macrobenthos. However, the effects of bioavailable heavy metals on functional traits of macrobenthos communities remain to be examined. We sampled macrobenthos communities and assessed environmental variables over gradients of heavy metal pollution in Swan Lagoon, China. The RLQ and fourth-corner approaches were used to investigate the response of functional traits to heavy metal pollution. Our findings suggested that macrobenthic functional traits can be used to distinguish the effects of heavy metals and other environmental variables and isolate the corresponding species associated with heavy metal contamination. The macrobenthos at highly contaminated sites comprised taxa of sub-surface deposit-feeders, second-order opportunistic species, and tube-builders, mainly represented by the polychaeta Cirriformia tentaculata and Cirratulus chrysoderma. At less contaminated sites, indifferent species, species attached to seagrass, and crawlers were observed. The results confirm that BTA can provide new insights into the response of macrobenthic functional traits to heavy metal pollution in coastal lagoons.