, Volume 75, Issue 2, pp 201-213

Enteromorpha flexuosa (Wulfen) J. Agardh (Chlorophyta: Ulvales) – Evaluation as an Indicator of Heavy Metal Contamination in a Tropical Estuary

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Abstract

The use of bioindicators for contaminant monitoring ispopular in all sectors of the environment but quite oftenbioindicators are utilised without rigorous evaluation oftheir viability as an indicator. We report field andlaboratory investigations into the value of a commonlyfound macroalga, Enteromorpha flexuosa (Wulfen) J.Agardh (Chlorophyta: Ulvales) as an indicator of copper,zinc and lead contamination in a tropical estuary inFiji. In the laboratory, metal content of E.flexuosa after 60 days of growth in seawater containingincreasing concentrations of the metals showed almostperfect correlation with metal concentrations in waterfor all three metals, and concentration factors obtainedwere generally higher than values reported for otherspecies of Enteromorpha. Performance in the fieldwas evaluated by a one-year monitoring of metals in E. flexuosa, water and sediments from a contaminatedestuary. Metal concentrations in water were always belowdetection limits and field concentration factors couldnot be determined but the concentration of lead in E. flexuosa showed a high correlation with the leadcontent of sediments. Lack of such correlation forcopper and zinc in the field suggests that otherenvironmental factors besides metal load in the physicalenvironment could be controlling the bioaccumulation ofthese two metals. Whilst demonstrating E. flexuosato be a viable bioindicator for lead, these results alsohighlight the need for proper assessment before anorganism is considered for environmental monitoring.