The mining and production of nickel in tropical regions have the potential to impact on ecologically valuable tropical marine ecosystems. Currently, few data exist to assess the risks of nickel exposure to tropical ecosystems and to derive ecologically relevant water quality guidelines. In particular, data are lacking for keystone species such as scleractinian corals, which create the complex structural reef habitats that support many other marine species. As part of a larger study developing risk assessment tools for nickel in the tropical Asia-Pacific region, we investigated the toxicity of nickel on fertilisation success in three species of scleractinian corals: Acropora aspera, Acropora digitifera and Platygyra daedalea. In the literature, more data are available on the effects of copper on coral fertilisation, so to allow for comparisons with past studies, the toxicity of copper to A. aspera and P. daedalea was also determined. Overall, copper was more toxic than nickel to the fertilisation success of the species tested. Acropora aspera was the most sensitive species to nickel (NOEC < 280 µg Ni/L), followed by A. digitifera with an EC10 of 2000 µg Ni/L and P. daedalea (EC10 > 4610 µg Ni/L). Acropora aspera was also the more sensitive species to copper with an EC10 of 5.8 µg Cu/L. The EC10 for P. daedalea was 16 µg Cu/L, similar to previous studies. This is the first time that the toxicity of nickel on fertilisation success in Acropora species has been reported, and thus provides valuable data that can contribute to the development of reliable water quality guidelines for nickel in tropical marine waters.
Available for download on Tuesday, July 10, 2018