Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 75, Issue 2, pp 121–134

Biomonitoring Heavy Metals in Estuaries: A Field Comparison of Two Brown Algae Species Inhabiting Upper Estuarine Reaches


DOI: 10.1023/A:1014479612811

Cite this article as:
Barreiro, R., Picado, L. & Real, C. Environ Monit Assess (2002) 75: 121. doi:10.1023/A:1014479612811


Biomonitoring dissolved heavy metals within estuaries,particularly at their upper reaches, frequently has to relyon several biomonitors; rarely a single species thrives allalong the salinity gradient. To properly do so, it must beestablished whether those biomonitors actually accumulateheavy metals alike. In this study, two brown seaweeds fromthe upper section of three NW Spain estuaries – the widely-known Fucus vesiculosus and the estuarine Fucusceranoides – were compared as metal biomonitors. Bothspecies were collected at five locations where they eithercoexist or live close to each other and their heavy metalcontent (Cu, Cr, Mn, Zn, Fe, Al) was measured. Analyseswere appropriately replicated for each species x locationcombination to allow a statistically reliable detection ofdifferences in bioaccumulation, with particular emphasis onthe magnitude of interspecific differences. The lack of significant differences for Cu, Mn, and Zncontents in F. ceranoides and F. vesiculosussupports the feasibility of their joint use to monitorthese metals along the estuaries. Conversely, F.ceranoides concentrated significantly higher levels of Cr,Fe, and Al than F. vesiculosus and hence combiningdata for both fucoids to monitor these elements seemsimpractical. The correlation of species differencestogether with a similar Al:Fe ratio in both weed tissue andsediment suggest that Cr, Fe, and Al tissue-burdens mightbe considerably biased by sediment retained on the surfaceof the weed. Parallel analyses of Al and/or Fe in seaweedsand sediments could serve to keep track of thisinterference and may help to combine data from both fucoidsfor monitoring elements like Cr.

heavy metals Fucus ceranoides Fucus vesiculosus NW Spain pollution monitoring upper estuarine reaches 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Área de Ecología, Departamento de Biología Animal, Biología Vegetal y Ecología, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de La CoruñaLa CoruñaSpain
  2. 2.Área de Ecología, Departamento de Biología Fundamental, Facultad de BiologíaUniversidad de Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain

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