, Volume 174, Issue 3, pp 245-262

Comparative strategies of heavy metal accumulation by crustaceans: zinc, copper and cadmium in a decapod, an amphipod and a barnacle

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This study investigates the comparative strategies of accumulation under standardised laboratory conditions of the essential metals zinc and copper, and the non-essential metal cadmium by three crustaceans of different taxa; vizPalaemon elegans Rathke (Malacostraca: Eucarida: Decapoda),Echinogammarus pirloti (Sexton & Spooner) (Malacostraca: Peracarida: Amphipoda) and the barnacleElminius modestus Darwin (Cirripedia: Thoracica).

The decapodP. elegans regulates body zinc concentrations to a constant level (ca. 79 µg Zn g−1) over a wide range of dissolved metal availabilities until regulation breaks down at high Zn availabilities and net accumulation begins. The amphipodE. pirloti accumulates zinc at all dissolved zinc concentrations but at a low net rate such that the accumulation strategy approaches that of regulation. The barnacleE. modestus accumulates zinc to high body concentrations with no significant excretion of accumulated zinc. In the case of copper,P. elegans similarly regulates body copper concentrations to a constant level (ca. 129 µg Cu g−1) over a range of dissolved copper availabilities until regulation breaks down at high copper concentrations. Both the amphipodE. pirloti and the barnacleE. modestus on the other hand accumulate copper at all dissolved copper exposures with no evidence of regulation. All three crustaceans accumulate the non-essential metal cadmium at all dissolved cadmium concentrations without regulation.

Heavy metal accumulation strategies therefore vary between crustacean taxa and between metals. Uptake rates for zinc and cadmium have been estimated for the three crustaceans and can be interpreted in terms of cuticle permeability and way of life of each crustacean. Examination of these uptake rates provides an insight into possible reasons behind the adoption of particular metal accumulation strategies.