The mining and processing of nickel ores from tropical regions contributes 40% of the global supply. The potential impact of these activities on tropical marine ecosystems is poorly understood. Due to the lack of ecotoxicity data for tropical marine species, there is currently no available water quality guideline value for nickel that is specific to tropical species. In this study, we investigated the toxicity of nickel to three tropical marine invertebrates, the gastropod Nassarius dorsatus, the barnacle Amphibalanus amphitrite, and the copepod Acartia sinjiensis. All toxicity tests used chronic endpoints, namely larval growth, metamorphosis (transition from nauplii to cyprid larvae) and larval development for the snail, barnacle and copepod respectively. Toxicity tests were carried out under environmentally relevant conditions (i.e. 27-30ᵒC, salinity 34-36‰ pH 8.1-8.4). Copper was also tested for quality assurance purposes and to allow for comparisons with previous studies. The copepod was the most sensitive species to nickel, with development inhibited by 10% (EC10) at 5.5 (5.0-6.0) µg Ni/L (95% confidence limits (CL)). Based on EC10 values, the gastropod and barnacle showed similar sensitivities to nickel with growth and metamorphosis inhibited by 10% at 64 (37−91) µg Ni/L and 67 (53−80) µg Ni/L, respectively. Based on existing data available in the literature, the copepod A. sinjiensis is so far the most sensitive tropical marine species to nickel. This study has provided high quality data which will contribute to the development of a water quality guideline value for nickel in tropical marine waters. A species sensitivity distribution of chronic nickel toxicity used the data generated in this paper supplemented by available literature data, comprising 12 species representing 6 taxonomic groups. A 5% hazard concentration (HC5) was determined as 8.2 µg/L Ni.
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