Aquatic insects often dominate lotic ecosystems, yet these organisms are under-represented in trace metal toxicity databases. Furthermore, toxicity data for aquatic insects do not appear to reflect their actual sensitivities to metals in nature, because the concentrations required to elicit toxicity in the laboratory are considerably higher than those found to impact insect communities in the field. New approaches are therefore needed to better understand how and why insects are differentially susceptible to metal exposures. Biodynamic modeling is a powerful tool for understanding interspecific differences in trace metal bioaccumulation. Because bioaccumulation alone does not necessarily correlate with toxicity, we combined biokinetic parameters associated with dissolved cadmium exposures with studies of the subcellular compartmentalization of accumulated Cd. This combination of physiological traits allowed us to make predictions of susceptibility differences to dissolved Cd in three aquatic insect taxa: Ephemerella excrucians, Rhithrogena morrisoni, and Rhyacophila sp. We compared these predictions with long-term field monitoring data and toxicity tests with closely related taxa: Ephemerella infrequens, Rhithrogena hageni, and Rhyacophila brunea. Kinetic parameters allowed us to estimate steady-state concentrations, the time required to reach steady state, and the concentrations of Cd projected to be in potentially toxic compartments for different species. Species-specific physiological traits identified using biodynamic models provided a means for better understanding why toxicity assays with insects have failed to provide meaningful estimates for metal concentrations that would be expected to be protective in nature. ?? 2007 American Chemical Society.
Additional Publication Details
Using biodynamic models to reconcile differences between laboratory toxicity tests and field biomonitoring with aquatic insects