Sensitivity of six subantarctic marine invertebrates to common metal contaminants



Publication Details

Holan, J. R., King, C. K. & Davis, A. R. (2016). Sensitivity of six subantarctic marine invertebrates to common metal contaminants. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 35 (9), 2245-2251.


A long history of anthropogenic activities in the relatively pristine subantarctic has resulted in areas of accumulated waste and contaminants. Sensitivities to metals of subantarctic and Antarctic species may contrast with related species from temperate and tropical areas because of the unique characteristics of polar biota. In addition, response to contaminants may be delayed, and hence longer exposure periods may be required in toxicity tests with polar species. In the present study, the sensitivity of 6 common subantarctic marine invertebrates to copper, zinc, and cadmium contaminants was determined. Large variations in sensitivities, both between species and between metals within species, were found. The bivalve Gaimardia trapesina and the copepod Harpacticus sp. were the most sensitive to copper, with 7-d median lethal concentration (LC50) values for both species ranging between 28 μg/L and 62 μg/L, whereas the copepod Tigriopus angulatus was the most tolerant of copper (7-d Cu LC50 1560 μg/L). Sensitivity to zinc varied by approximately 1 order of magnitude between species (7-d LC50: 329-3057 μg/L). Sensitivity to cadmium also varied considerably between species, with 7-d LC50 values ranging from 1612 μg/L to >4383 μg/L. The present study is the first to report the sensitivity of subantarctic marine invertebrate to metals, and contributes significantly to the understanding of latitudinal gradients in the sensitivity of biota to metals. Although sensitivity is highly variable between species, in a global comparison of copepod data, it appears that species from higher latitudes may be more sensitive to copper.

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