Journal of Aquatic Ecosystem Health

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 193–198 | Cite as

The influence of plants on concentration and fractionation of Zn, Pb, and Cu in salt marsh sediments (Tagus Estuary, Portugal)

  • Isabel Caçador
  • Carlos Vale
  • Fernando Catarino


Sediment cores were collected from two sites of the Tagus estuary salt marshes which differed in degree of metal contamination. At each site, six 60-cm-long cores were taken, three from a non-vegetated intertidal zone, and one from each of areas colonized by salt marsh plants, Spartina maritima, Halimione portulacoides and Arthrocnemum fruticosum, respectively. Total concentrations and concentrations in sequential extractions of Zn, Pb, and Cu were determined in several sediment layers. Sediment slices containing most of the roots (5–15-cm depth) were enriched in metals in comparison with other depths in the core and with non-vegetated cores. Additionally, metals in sediment slices with roots were preferentially linked to the residual fraction. These results are evidence that aquatic plant roots can have a strong influence on metal concentration and speciation in sediments. Since metals become immobilized in vegetated sediments, the preservation of salt marshes or the creation of artificial wetlands could be considered as an efficient natural means for maintaining ecosystem health or restoring ecosystem quality.

Key words

metals availability ecosystem restoration 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alloway, B. J., 1990. Soil process and the behavior of metals. In: B. J. Alloway (ed.), Heavy Metals in Soils. pp. 7–27. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York.Google Scholar
  2. Armstrong, W., S. H. F. W. Justin, P. M. Beckett & S. Lythe, 1991. Root adaptation to soil waterlogging. Aq. Bot. 39: 57–73.Google Scholar
  3. Caçador, I., C. Vale & F. Catarino, 1993. Effects of plants on the accumulation of Zn, Pb, Cu and Cd in sediments of the Tagus estuary salt marshes, Portugal. In: J.-P. Vernet (ed.), Environnnental Contamination. pp. 355–364. Elsevier Science PublisherB. V., Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  4. Caçador, I., 1994. Accumulaçäó e retençäo de metals pesados nos sapais do Estuário do Tejo, Tese de Doutoramento. Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa, 142 pp.Google Scholar
  5. Chenhall, B. E., I. Yassini & B. J. Jones, 1992. Heavy metal concentration in lagoonal saltmarsh species, Ilhawarra region, southeastern Australia. Sci. Tot. Environ. 125: 203–225.Google Scholar
  6. Ernst, W. H. O., 1990. Ecophysiology of plants in waterlogged and flooded environments. Aq. Bot. 38: 73–90.Google Scholar
  7. Madureira, M. J., C. Vale & M. L. Gonçalves, 1994. Sulphur biogeochemistry in Tagus estuary salt-marshes, Portugal. In: S. P. Varnavas (ed.), Proc. Int. Conf. Heavy Metals in the Environment, Delphi, Greece, pp. 278–280. CEP Consultants, Edinburgh.Google Scholar
  8. Martin, J. M., P. Nirel & A. J. Thomas, 1987. Sequential extraction techniques: Promises and problems. Mar. Chem. 22: 313–341.Google Scholar
  9. Morel, J. L., M. Mench & A. Guckert, 1986. Measurement of Pb2+, Cu2+ and Cd2+ binding with mucilage exudates from maize (Zea mays L.) roots. Biol. Fertil. Soils 2: 29–34.Google Scholar
  10. Otte, M. L., J. Rozema, L. Koster, M. S. Haarsma & R. A. Broekman, 1989. Iron plaque on roots of Aster tripolium L.: Interaction with zinc uptake. New Phytol. 111: 309–317.Google Scholar
  11. Otte, R., 1991. Heavy Metals and Arsenic in Vegetation of Salt Marshes and Foodplains. PhD Thesis, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, 160 pp.Google Scholar
  12. Rozema, J., R. Otte, R. A. Broekman & H. Punte, 1985. Accumulation of heavy metals in estuarine salt marsh sediment and uptake of heavy metals by salt marsh halophytes In: T. Lekkas (ed.), Proc. Int. Conf. Heavy Metals in the Environment, Athens 1. pp. 545–547. CEP Consultants, Edinburgh.Google Scholar
  13. Tessier, A., P. G. C. Campbell & M. Bisson, 1979. Sequential extraction procedure of the speciation of particulate trace metals. Anal. Chem. 51: 844–851.Google Scholar
  14. Tinker, P. B. & P. B. Barraclough, 1988. Root Soil Interactions. In: O. Hutzinger (ed.), Reactions and Processes, 2: Part D. pp. 154–171. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.Google Scholar
  15. Vale, C., 1990. Temporal variations of particulate metals in the Tagus river estuary. Sci Tot. Environ. 97/98: 137–154.Google Scholar
  16. Vale, C., F. Catarino, C. Cortesão & M. I. Caçador, 1990. Presence of metal-rich rhizoconcretions on the roots of Spartina maritima from the salt marshes of the Tagus estuary, Portugal. Sci. Tot. Environ. 97/98: 617–626.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isabel Caçador
    • 1
  • Carlos Vale
    • 2
    • 1
  • Fernando Catarino
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Oceanography, Faculty of SciencesUniversity of Lisbon, Rua Ernesto VasconcelosLisboaPortugal
  2. 2.Portuguese Institute for Maritime ResearchLisboaPortugal

Personalised recommendations