Pollution-induced community tolerance (PICT) has been used to demonstrate effects of sediment contamination on microbes and meiofauna. Our study explored the potential to detect PICT in benthic macroinvertebrates of a lake with long-term mild lead (Pb) contamination. We collected macrobenthos from two areas in Caddo Lake, Texas, a control area (CO) with a mean sediment Pb level of 11 μg/g and Goose Prairie (GP) where sediment Pb levels averaged 74 μg/g. Upon return to the laboratory, we exposed macroinvertebrates to a lethal lead concentration and assessed 48-h mortality. Mortality of CO macrobenthos was significantly higher than that of GP macrobenthos, providing evidence that these communities differed in their tolerance to lead. A comparison of macrobenthos community composition between the areas showed that the GP macrobenthos lacked metal-sensitive taxa such as gastropods and amphipods (which were present at CO). Similarly, a higher proportion of the GP benthos belonged to metal-tolerant taxa such as isopods and chironomids. Thus, changes in community composition appeared to be at least partly responsible for differences in community tolerance. Our results showed that a sediment Pb concentration below effect-based sediment quality guidelines had a measurable impact on macrobenthos, thus demonstrating that results from single-species toxicity tests may underestimate impacts on communities. This study also confirms that the PICT approach with macroinvertebrates is a feasible and potentially powerful approach for detecting contaminant impacts.
Environmental Science and Pollution Research – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 28, 2017
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