Effects of copper on the faunas of marine soft-sediments: An experimental field study
- Cite this article as:
- Morrisey, D.J., Underwood, A.J. & Howitt, L. Marine Biology (1996) 125: 199. doi:10.1007/BF00350774
- 131 Downloads
Although laboratory experimental studies have shown that copper is toxic to marine organisms at concentrations found in contaminated sediments, there is little unequivocal evidence of undesirable ecological effects in the field, other than at extreme concentrations. We describe a study in Botany Bay, New South Wales, Australia, in which the concentrations of copper in marine sediments were experimentally enhanced. Changes in the abundance and taxonomic composition of the fauna of copper-treated sediments relative to those of two control treatments were monitored over a period of six months. Univariate (ANOVA) and multivariate (non-metric multidimensional scaling, MDS) analyses of the changes in the fauna showed that increased concentrations of copper (140 to 1200 μg g-1 compared with background concentrations of 29 to 40 μg g-1) had an impact on the fauna. The nature of the response varied among taxa. For example, in some taxa, numbers of individuals decreased through time relative to controls, whereas the abundance of another taxon remained fairly constant through time in the copper treatment while numbers of control individuals increased. Differences in the changes of the faunas through time among the control and copper treatments were not always consistent among replicate experimental units 5 m apart, nor were they consistent between replicate experimental sites 100 m apart. The magnitudes of the changes in the faunas caused by the copper treatment are considered in the context of the magnitude of previously measured “natural” temporal variation.