Date: 28 Nov 2008

Long-Term Effects of Ammonia on the Behavioral Activity of the Aquatic Snail Potamopyrgus antipodarum (Hydrobiidae, Mollusca)

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Abstract

An appropriate approach to assess the effect of toxicants on aquatic animals is to monitor behavioral endpoints, as they are a link between physiological and ecological processes. A group that can be exposed long-term to low toxic concentrations is benthic macroinvertebrates, as their mobility in aquatic ecosystems is relatively limited. Therefore, the study of behavioral long-term effects in this group is suitable from an ecological point of view, as behavioral effects can appear before mortality. During the last decades there has been an increase in ammonia concentrations in freshwater ecosystems, threatening aquatic animals. The present study focuses on the long-term effects (40 days) of nonionized ammonia on the behavioral activity of the aquatic snail Potamopyrgus antipodarum. One control and three ammonia concentrations (0.02, 0.07, and 0.13 mg N–NH3/L) were used in triplicate, and the activity of snails (as mean time to start normal movement) and immobility were recorded for each treatment after 0, 10, 20, 30, and 40 days of continuous exposure to nonionized ammonia. The results show that P. antipodarum presented a high tolerance to lethal long-term effects of nonionized ammonia, as no animal died during the bioassay. However, the behavioral activity of snails was a very sensitivity endpoint, as a mean nonionized ammonia concentration of 0.07 mg N–NH3/L affected P. antipodarum. The results are discussed and compared with the available literature on long-term effects of ammonia on freshwater macroinvertebrates. Additionally, the ammonia water quality criteria, NOECs, LOECs, and long-term LCs are discussed on the basis of the current available data for freshwater macroinvertebrates.