Invertebrates have long been used as resident sentinels for assessing ecosystem health and productivity. The shore crabs, Hemigrapsus oregonensis and Pachygrapsus crassipes, are abundant in estuaries and beaches throughout northern California, USA and have been used as indicators of habitat conditions in several salt marshes. The overall objectives of the present study were to conduct a lab-based study to test the accumulation of current-use pesticides, validate the analytical method and to analyze field-collected crabs for a suite of 74 current-use and legacy pesticides. A simple laboratory uptake study was designed to determine if embryos could bioconcentrate the herbicide molinate over a 7-d period. At the end of the experiment, embryos were removed from the crabs and analyzed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Although relatively hydrophilic (log KOW of 2.9), molinate did accumulate with an estimated bioconcentration factor (log BCF) of approximately 2.5. Following method validation, embryos were collected from two different Northern California salt marshes and analyzed. In field-collected embryos 18 current-use and eight organochlorine pesticides were detected including synthetic pyrethroids and organophosphate insecticides, as well as DDT and its degradates. Lipid-normalized concentrations of the pesticides detected in the field-collected crab embryos ranged from 0.1 to 4 ppm. Pesticide concentrations and profiles in crab embryos were site specific and could be correlated to differences in land-use practices. These preliminary results indicate that embryos are an effective sink for organic contaminants in the environment and have the potential to be good indicators of ecosystem health, especially when contaminant body burden analyses are paired with reproductive impairment assays.
Additional publication details
Accumulation of current-use and organochlorine pesticides in crab embryos from Northern California, USA