Pollution-induced community tolerance in benthic macroinvertebrates of a mildly lead-contaminated lake
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Pollution-induced community tolerance (PICT) has been used to demonstrate effects of sediment contamination on microbes and meiofauna. Our study explored the potential to detect PICT in benthic macroinvertebrates of a lake with long-term mild lead (Pb) contamination. We collected macrobenthos from two areas in Caddo Lake, Texas, a control area (CO) with a mean sediment Pb level of 11 μg/g and Goose Prairie (GP) where sediment Pb levels averaged 74 μg/g. Upon return to the laboratory, we exposed macroinvertebrates to a lethal lead concentration and assessed 48-h mortality. Mortality of CO macrobenthos was significantly higher than that of GP macrobenthos, providing evidence that these communities differed in their tolerance to lead. A comparison of macrobenthos community composition between the areas showed that the GP macrobenthos lacked metal-sensitive taxa such as gastropods and amphipods (which were present at CO). Similarly, a higher proportion of the GP benthos belonged to metal-tolerant taxa such as isopods and chironomids. Thus, changes in community composition appeared to be at least partly responsible for differences in community tolerance. Our results showed that a sediment Pb concentration below effect-based sediment quality guidelines had a measurable impact on macrobenthos, thus demonstrating that results from single-species toxicity tests may underestimate impacts on communities. This study also confirms that the PICT approach with macroinvertebrates is a feasible and potentially powerful approach for detecting contaminant impacts.
KeywordsBenthos Macroinvertebrates Community tolerance Lead Impact
This work was funded with student grants from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Graduate Student Organization and the Ecology Center of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. We thank Marvin “Trey” Mace III, Courtney Curtis, Emmanuel Blankson, Johanna Farmer, and Kruuttika Satbhai for the assistance in field sampling and/or laboratory processing of samples. We thank Kate Hayes-Huer for the assistance with the manuscript preparation.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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