Influences on copper bioaccumulation, growth, and survival of the midge, Chironomus tentans, in metal-contaminated sediments

Journal of Aquatic Ecosystem Health
By: , and 



Sediment bioassays with larvae of the midge, Chironomus tentans, were used to evaluate influences on the bioavailability and toxicity of copper (Cu) in sediments with a wide range of concentrations of metals, acid-volatile sulfide (AVS), and other physicochemical characteristics. Sediments were collected from sixteen lakes in Michigan, USA, and from twelve sites in the Clark Fork River drainage of Montana, USA, which are contaminated with metals from mining activities and from other anthropogenic sources. Bioassays with C. tentans larvae were conducted for ten days in a static-renewal test system, with endpoints of survival, growth, and metal bioaccumulation. Bioaccumulation of copper (Cu) was strongly correlated with Cu concentrations in porewater, and was increased significantly at Cu concentrations less than those affecting growth or survival. Midge survival and growth were not significantly correlated with concentrations of Cu in sediment or porewater, and were poorly predicted by ratios of acid-extractable metals to AVS in sediments. Principal components analysis indicated that Cu concentrations in porewater and bioaccumulation of Cu by midge larvae were influenced by AVS, sediment organic carbon, and porewater pH, and that toxicity was associated with high concentrations of Cu, high concentrations of zinc (Zn) and ammonia. No toxicity was observed in several sediments which contained low concentrations of AVS and high concentrations of Cu and Zn. In sediments which contain little AVS, bioavailability of metals may be controlled by constituents other than sulfides, such as organic matter and metal hydrous oxides. These results indicate that assessments of toxicity in metal-contaminated sediments should evaluate the importance of metal-binding phases other than sulfides, and the possible contributions of ammonia or other toxicants to toxicity in sediment bioassays.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Influences on copper bioaccumulation, growth, and survival of the midge, Chironomus tentans, in metal-contaminated sediments
Series title Journal of Aquatic Ecosystem Health
DOI 10.1007/BF00116651
Volume 4
Issue 3
Year Published 1995
Language English
Publisher Kluwer Academic Publishers
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description 12 p.
First page 157
Last page 168
Country United States
State Michigan, Montana
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