, Volume 116, Issue 2, pp 231-239

Differential sensitivity of marine infaunal amphipods to tributyltin

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Abstract

Three species of infaunal gammaridean amphipods, Rhepoxynius abronius (Phoxocephalidae), Eohaustorius washingtonianus, and E. estuarius (Haustoriidae) were tested in a water-only system to assess their sensitivity to tributyltin (TBT) without the influence of factors that could affect bioavailability. When mortality (LC50) was the endpoint, the results indicated that R. abronius was ≈20 times more tolerant to tributyltin than either haustoriid species; however, when mortality plus reburial behavior (EC50) was assessed, the difference was only about 10 times. The bioconcentration factor (BCF) was also consistently lower in R. abronius (11.1 to 16.5 times) than in the haustoriids; however, when the LD50 was calculated, the concentration in the tissues associated with 50% mortality for each species was not significantly different. The large disparity in species' response is attributed to reduced uptake and a potentially greater ability to metabolize this compound by R. abronius. An analysis of TBT uptake confirmed that R. abronius was able to accumulate less TBT and hence maintain a low body burden for a given water concentration. The results of a separate uptake study were used to formulate a hypothesis for observed differences in reburial behavior. Because the rate of TBT uptake was lower in R. abronius, we propose that the slower rise in toxicant body burden allowed for a gradual response in this species which included a sublethal effect (non reburial), compared to a rapid rise in the body burden for E. estuarius which caused the response to quickly proceed from no effect to death.

Communicated by M. G. Hadfield, Honolulu