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Preservation effects on wet weight, dry weight, and ash-free dry weight biomass estimates of four common estuarine macro-invertebrates: No difference between ethanol and formalin
Wetzel, M.A.; Leuchs, H.; Koop, J.H.E. (2005). Preservation effects on wet weight, dry weight, and ash-free dry weight biomass estimates of four common estuarine macro-invertebrates: No difference between ethanol and formalin. Helgol. Mar. Res. 59(3): 206-213. dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10152-005-0220-z
In: Helgoland Marine Research. Springer: Berlin; Heidelberg. ISSN 1438-387X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Biomass; Crustaceans; Preservation (organisms); Crustacea [WoRMS]; Polychaeta [WoRMS]; ANE, Germany, Weser Estuary [Marine Regions]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Wetzel, M.A.
  • Leuchs, H.
  • Koop, J.H.E.

Abstract
    Two preservative treatments traditionally used in aquatic sciences, formalin (4%) and ethanol (70%), were compared for their effects on biomass estimations. The effects of both preservatives on wet weight, dry weight, and ash-free dry weight were determined for samples preserved for 10, 21, and 90 days. The effects were studied in four different macrofauna species commonly found in German estuaries: Heteromastus filiformis (Capitellidae, Polychaeta), Hediste diversicolor (Nereididae, Polychaeta), Corophium sp. (Amphipoda, Crustaceae), and Gammarus spp. (Amphipoda, Crustacea). The biomass estimates of preserved samples were compared with those of unpreserved samples. In all four species the loss in wet weight, dry weight, and ash-free dry weight was most pronounced within the first 10 days, and an additional weight loss was recorded between days 10 and 21. However, there was no further loss in weight for samples kept for as long as 90 days in the preservatives. In general, crustaceans exhibited higher weight loss than polychaetes, and smaller species (H. filiformis and Corophium sp.) showed higher weight loss and a higher variability than larger species. As our main result, significant differences between the two preservative treatments did never occur. Our results contradict some earlier investigations on this matter where formalin has been reported to be superior to alcoholic preservatives because weight loss was less pronounced than in ethanol. Factors affecting biomass estimates are discussed and we conclude that, for the macrofauna groups tested, the use of the toxic formalin solution is not justified when the major intent is biomass estimation.

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