, Volume 328, Issue 3, pp 215–261

Toxicity analysis of freshwater and marine sediments with meio- and macrobenthic organisms: a review

  • Walter Traunspurger
  • Carlos Drews
Invited review paper

DOI: 10.1007/BF00017632

Cite this article as:
Traunspurger, W. & Drews, C. Hydrobiologia (1996) 328: 215. doi:10.1007/BF00017632


Benthic metazoans play a key role as test organisms in toxicity analyses of aquatic ecosystems. This report gives an overview of the species of benthic metazoans used for the assessment of toxicity in freshwater and marine sediments, as well as of the criteria relevant to the choice between test species and procedures. The main applications of these organisms are mono-species bioassays, test-batteries, analyses of benthic communities and bioaccumulation studies. Sediment toxicity assays, including acute and chronic exposures, have been developed for nematodes, insects, oligochaetes, polychaetes, crustaceans, molluscs and echinoderms. At least 30 species of freshwater and 71 species of marine and estuarine benthic metazoans have thus far been used in sediment toxicity bioassays. Although aquatic pollution is a world-wide problem, most sediment toxicity bioassays have been developed for organisms native to Europe and North America. The most common bioassay endpoints are mortality, development, growth and behavioural responses. The value of genetic, biochemical, physiological and pathological responses as toxicity endpoints is currently being investigated. The quest for additional test species and protocols is still a worthwhile endeavour in sediment ecotoxicology.

Key words

review ecotoxicology pollution bioassay benthos 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Walter Traunspurger
    • 1
  • Carlos Drews
    • 2
  1. 1.Zoological InstituteUniversity of MunichManchenGermany
  2. 2.Programa regional en Manejo de Vida SilvestreUniversidad NacionalHerediaCosta Rica

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