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The use of offshore meiobenthic communities in laboratory microcosm experiments: response to heavy metal contamination
Austen, M.; McEvoy, A. (1997). The use of offshore meiobenthic communities in laboratory microcosm experiments: response to heavy metal contamination. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 211: 247-261
In: Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. Elsevier: Tokyo; Oxford; New York; Lausanne; Shannon; Amsterdam. ISSN 0022-0981, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Bioassays; Community composition; Meiobenthos; Metals; Microcosms; Nematoda [WoRMS]

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    A microcosm, originally developed for intertidal, estuarine meiobenthic communities, has been used to determine the effects of the heavy metals copper, zinc, cadmium and lead on offshore meiobenthic nematode communities. Significant differences were observed in community structure between controls and all metals except cadmium. The dose response of the offshore meiofauna to experimental contamination was rather confusing as copper and zinc low doses appeared to have much more drastic effects than the high doses. We speculate that at the highest copper and zinc dose levels the metals acted as preservatives such that animals died but did not decompose. This indicates that metals will affect the microbial component of the sediment as well as the meiobenthos in this type of experimental design. The response to the contaminants of offshore sediment biota differed from that previously observed in intertidal estuarine biota. This may be because fauna in the estuarine environment are subjected to greater levels of natural physicochemical stress and are therefore more generally tolerant. This suggests that environmental impact assessments should bioassay communities which naturally inhabit the environment to be assessed. The methods used have potential in the development of a community level bioassay particularly since it appears that the dominant nematode component of meiobenthic communities, from a wide range of habitats, can be easily maintained in simple microcosms.

  • Offshore nematodes from Rame and in microcosm experiment (exposure to metals), more

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