We assessed accumulation of cadmium (Cd) and bioturbation by nymphs of the burrowing mayfly Hexagenia bilineata as indicators of exposure to Cd-spiked sediment in a 21-d test. Surficial sediments (top 5 cm) from Pool 7 of the Upper Mississippi River were spiked with Cd to concentrations of 3, 7, and 15 µg Cd g-1 dry weight. The experimental design was completely randomized, with three Cd-spiked sediment treatments plus an unspiked sediment control (1 µg Cd g-1 dry weight), and 10 nymphs in each of six replicates per treatment. Nymphs accumulated Cd during the 21-d exposure; mean concentrations varied from 0.22 to 6.24 µg g-1 dry weight, and tissue concentrations were correlated with Cd concentration in unfiltered test water (r = 0.93, P <0.01) and test sediment (r = 0.93, P <0.01). The effect of Cd on bioturbation by nymphs, as indicated by turbidity, differed significantly among treatments (P = 0.045) and over time within treatments (P = 0.01). Turbidity progressively decreased as Cd concentration in the sediment increased, up to 7 µg g-1; however, turbidity in the 15 µg g-1 treatment (our greatest exposure concentration) did not differ significantly from the control. Concentrations of Cd in unfiltered, overlying test water increased significantly within treatments during the test, indicating that nymphs mobilized sediment-associated Cd into the overlying water, presumably through burrowing and respiratory activities.
Additional publication details
Effects of cadmium-spiked sediment on cadmium accumulation and bioturbation by nymphs of the burrowing mayfly Hexagenia bilineata