, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 161-172

First online:

The role of biomarkers in environmental assessment (2). Invertebrates

  • M. H. DepledgeAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Plymouth
  • , M. C. FossiAffiliated withDepartment di Biologia Ambientale, University of Siena

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


The potential use of biomarkers in ecological risk assessment is explored. The biomarker concept, initially developed to form a basis for studies at the individual/population level, is extended to include community and ecosystem level studies. A strategy is outlined in which biomarkers might be used to assess chemical exposureand the cumulative, adverse effects of toxicants on biotain situ. Protocols for identifying communities, species and populations most at risk are described. The role of biomarkers in the evaluation of the effectiveness of remedial action to alleviate pollution is discussed. It is proposed that, in addition to biomarker measurements on samples obtained from organisms at field sites, biomarker screening tests should be initiated in the laboratory with a range of new chemicals and organisms relevant to the field sites thought to be at risk. This will help to establish links between laboratory-based testing and adverse effectsin situ.


biomarkers environmental assessment community level ecosystem level