Main content area

Application of biomarkers to assess the condition of European Marine Sites

Hagger, Josephine A., Galloway, Tamara S., Langston, William J., Jones, Malcolm B.
Environmental pollution 2009 v.157 no.7 pp. 2003-2010
water pollution, biomarkers, Mytilus edulis, mussels, Carcinus maenas, crabs, physiological response, England
A series of European Marine Sites has been designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) in England. The aim of this study was to develop a practical methodology to assess the condition of SACs by applying a suite of biomarkers. Biomarkers were applied to the blue mussel Mytilus edulis and the shore crab Carcinus maenas from the Fal and Helford SAC (Cornwall). Individual biomarkers provided useful diagnostic information on the activity of certain classes of contaminants and an integrated Biomarker Response Index (BRI) was used to achieve a more holistic understanding of the condition of the SAC. The BRI indicated that the general health of both organisms was impacted in the upper part of the SAC (Fal Estuary) which correlated well with known chemical hotspots and sources of contamination. The BRI allows a pragmatic way to prioritise SAC sites that may require further investigative studies. A suite of biomarkers was successfully used to create a Biomarker Response Index to assess the health of aquatic organisms from European Marine Sites.