Reproductive toxicity of metals in calanoid copepods
- Cite this article as:
- Hook, S.E. & Fisher, N.S. Marine Biology (2001) 138: 1131. doi:10.1007/s002270000533
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This study investigated the effect of exposure route on metal accumulation, tissue distribution, and toxicity in the marine copepods Acartia hudsonica and A. tonsa. Sublethal toxicity was measured as decreases in egg production, hatching rate, ovarian development and protein (yolk) content of the egg. When algal food, exposed to Hg at 1 nM or Cd at 5 nM resulting in cells containing 34 and 64 nmol metal g–1 dry weight, respectively, was ingested over a 4-h period by copepods, the total copepod body burden increased nine-fold for Hg and two-fold for Cd over background concentrations, and egg production decreased by 50%. Sublethal concentrations of metals were >2 orders of magnitude lower than LC50 concentrations. Hatching rate, ovarian development and egg protein content all decreased following trophic exposure to metals, implying that the process of yolk accumulation (vitellogenesis) was affected. Exposure to dissolved Cd had no effect, but dissolved Hg at concentrations as low as 0.25 nM did affect egg production. Different toxic effects following different exposure routes were related to different metal distributions in the copepods: exposure to dissolved metal resulted in metal deposition in the exoskeleton, whereas exposure to dietary metal resulted in metal deposition in internal tissues. These findings indicate that enrichment of metal concentrations in internal tissues, which occurs primarily after exposure to dietary metal, affects vitellogenesis. The reproduction rate decreases by about 75% at metal concentrations only moderately higher than levels in coastal waters. Toxicity tests involving aquatic animals need to consider effects following uptake by different pathways, including the trophic transfer of metals.