Incidence of stress in benthic communities along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts within different ranges of sediment contamination from chemical mixtures
ABSTRACT Synoptic data on concentrations of sediment-associated chemical contaminants and benthic macroinfaunal community structure were collected from 1,389 stations in estuaries along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts as part of the nationwide Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP). These data were used to develop an empirical framework for evaluating risks of benthic community-level effects within different ranges of sediment contamination from mixtures of multiple chemicals present at varying concentrations. Sediment contamination was expressed as the mean ratio of individual chemical concentrations relative to corresponding sediment quality guidelines (SQGs), including Effects Range-Median (ERM) and Probable Effects Level (PEL) values. Benthic condition was assessed using diagnostic, multi-metric indices developed for each of three EMAP provinces (Virginian, Carolinian, and Louisianian). Cumulative percentages of stations with a degraded benthic community were plotted against ascending values of the mean ERM and PEL quotients. Based on the observed relationships, mean SQG quotients were divided into four ranges corresponding to either a low, moderate, high, or very high incidence of degraded benthic condition. Results showed that condition of the ambient benthic community provides a reliable and sensitive indicator for evaluating the biological significance of sediment-associated stressors. Mean SQG quotients marking the beginning of the contaminant range associated with the highest incidence of benthic impacts (73-100% of samples, depending on the province and type of SQG) were well below those linked to high risks of sediment toxicity as determined by short-term toxicity tests with single species. Measures of the ambient benthic community reflect the sensitivities of multiple species and life stages to persistent exposures under actual field conditions. Similar results were obtained with preliminary data from the west coast (Puget Sound).
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- "At the individual level, stress is considered as a sub-lethal effect on the physiology of an organism, e.g., a decline in feeding, growth, or fecundity, or a biochemical change. At the community or ecosystem level, stress denotes an acute or chronic disturbance that causes a decline in the number of organisms affecting biotic interactions and integrity (e.g., Hyland et al., 2003; Pilière et al., 2014). Ecosystems as dynamic and self-organizing systems are continuously adapting to a multitude of disturbances (Connell, 1978). "
ABSTRACT: We reviewed 219 papers and built an inventory of 532 items of ecological evidence on multiple stressor impacts in rivers, lakes, transitional and coastal waters, as well as groundwaters. Our review revealed that, despite the existence of a huge conceptual knowledge base in aquatic ecology, few studies actually provide quantitative evidence on multi-stress effects. Nutrient stress was involved in 71% to 98% of multi-stress situations in the three types of surface water environments, and in 42% of those in groundwaters. However, their impact manifested differently along the groundwater-river-lake-transitional-coastal continuum, mainly determined by the different hydro-morphological features of these ecosystems. The reviewed papers addressed two-stressor combinations most frequently (42%), corresponding with the actual status-quo of pressures acting on European surface waters as reported by the Member States in the WISE WFD Database (EEA, 2015). Across all biological groups analysed, higher explanatory power of the stress-effect models was discernible for lakes under multi-stressor compared to single stressor conditions, but generally lower for coastal and transitional waters. Across all aquatic environments, the explanatory power of stress-effect models for fish increased when multi-stressor conditions were taken into account in the analysis, qualifying this organism group as a useful indicator of multi-stress effects. In contrast, the explanatory power of models using benthic flora decreased under conditions of multiple stress. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.Science of The Total Environment 06/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.06.045 · 4.10 Impact Factor
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- "These compounds are characterized by their benzene rings or carbon backbone with varying numbers of chlorine atom constituents that influence their lipophilicity (Shiu and Mackay 1986). In terms of anthropogenic influence, the U.S. South Atlantic represents an impacted area (Hyland et al. 2003) due to the large number of watersheds that feed into this system and proximity of high urban and industrial activity to these waterways. Marine biota utilizing areas adjacent to areas of high human activity have increased exposure to chemicals released into the environment. "
ABSTRACT: Elasmobranchs are a group of animals that typically occupy upper trophic levels in food webs and have a propensity to accumulate high contaminant concentrations. To date, few studies have investigated maternal offloading processes in sharks, despite the fact that this process represents a substantial source of exposure for young sharks and is a significant pathway for contaminant redistribution within marine ecosystems. Comparable to mammalian systems, scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini) utilize a yolk-sac placental strategy to nourish young in utero, which may allow females to transfer contaminants to young. Organic contaminants (PCBs and chlorinated pesticides) were measured in livers of both females and males from several age classes that were collected from U.S. Atlantic waters, including two near-term pregnant females and their embryos. Adult female hammerheads (n = 3) were found to have lower levels of PCBs compared to the younger, adult male (mean ± SD, 11.1 ± 1.0 vs. 22.8 μg g−1 lw), but had substantially higher concentrations of pesticides (4.1 ± 0.9 vs. 1.9 μg g−1 lw). Embryos from the two litters (n = 36) had similar levels of summed organic contaminant concentrations (4.6 ± 0.9 μg g−1 lw) and pregnant females were estimated to offload approximately 0.03–2.3 % of their hepatic contaminant load to offspring. While the potential health impacts of these transferred contaminants is unknown, this is the first study to demonstrate that scalloped hammerheads are exposed to a substantial amount of contaminants prior to birth and document maternal offloading of organochlorines in a pseudo-placental shark species. Therefore, future research should continue to investigate the potential adverse effects these contaminants have on elasmobranch physiology.Ecotoxicology 04/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10646-014-1403-7 · 2.50 Impact Factor
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- "Some taxa have been identified as useful bioindicators e species whose abundance or condition reflects environmental quality (Carignan and Villard, 2002). However, most of this research has focused on soft-sediment infaunal communities (Borja et al., 2008; Hewitt et al., 2009; Hyland et al., 2003; Van Dolah et al., 1999), which are physically separated from water column disturbances and may respond differently to other ecosystem components. "
ABSTRACT: Ecosystems modified by human activities are generally predicted to be biologically impoverished. However, much pollution impact theory stems from laboratory or small-scale field studies, and few studies replicate at the level of estuary. Furthermore, assessments are often based on sediment contamination and infauna, and impacts to epibiota (sessile invertebrates and algae) are seldom considered. We surveyed epibiota in six estuaries in south-east Australia. Half the estuaries were relatively pristine, and half were subject to internationally high levels of contamination, urbanisation, and industrialisation. Contrary to predictions, epibiota in modified estuaries had greater coverage and were similarly diverse as those in unmodified estuaries. Change in epibiota community structure was linearly correlated with sediment-bound copper, and the tubeworm Hydroides elegans showed a strong positive correlation with sediment metals. Stressors such as metal contamination can reduce biodiversity and productivity, but others such as nutrient enrichment and resource provision may obscure signals of impact.Environmental Pollution 01/2015; 196:12–20. DOI:10.1016/j.envpol.2014.09.017 · 3.90 Impact Factor