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The ocean quahog Arctica islandica L.: a bioindicator for contaminated sediments
Liehr, G.A.; Zettler, M.L.; Leipe, T.; Witt, G. (2005). The ocean quahog Arctica islandica L.: a bioindicator for contaminated sediments. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 147(3): 671-679.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Liehr, G.A.
  • Zettler, M.L.
  • Leipe, T.
  • Witt, G.

    The use of benthic organisms as bioindicators in the aquatic environment is a suitable method for assessing the effects of contaminants in coastal waters. The accumulation of heavy metals in body tissues due to lifestyle and feeding mechanisms makes it possible to reveal contamination rates and recovery trends within polluted areas. Comparing a polluted historical dumping site in the inner Mecklenburg Bight (western Baltic Sea) with a less-contaminated reference site at the edge of the Mecklenburg Bight, representing the background contamination of the western Baltic Sea, the present study discusses the population structure and heavy metal exposure of the ocean quahog Arctica islandica L. (Mollusca, Bivalvia) and evaluates this organism as a bioindicator for contaminated sediments. The organism density was higher at the reference site in comparison to the dumping site. The absence of juvenile and adult individuals at the dumping site seems to be a sign that this ecological environment has not completely regenerated since the dumping event in the late 1950s to early 1960s. Heavy metal concentrations of copper, lead, and zinc in the soft body tissue of A. islandica were analysed using atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS). Shell measurements were carried out using laser ablation–inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry. Particularly the concentrations of copper and lead were significantly higher in the soft body tissue as well as in the shell from the dumping site than from the reference site. For pollutant biomonitoring research, the shells of the ocean quahog can be used as an indicator for heavy metal accumulation. They are more suitable for reflecting historical contamination events than the soft body tissue.

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