Effects of Contaminated St. Lucie River Saltwater Sediments on an Amphipod (Ampelisca abdita) and a Hard-Shell Clam (Mercenaria mercenaria)

  • Tham C. Hoang
  • Gary M. Rand


The St. Lucie estuary (SLE) ecosystem in South Florida has been shown to be contaminated with metals and pesticides. Our earlier studies also showed that aquatic organisms, especially benthic species in the SLE ecosystem, might be potentially at high risk from copper (Cu) exposure. The objectives of this study were to conduct studies with separate groups of organisms exposed to seven field-collected sediment samples from the St. Lucie River according to standard procedures to evaluate toxicity and tissue concentrations of Cu and zinc (Zn). Short term and longer term whole sediment acute toxicity studies were performed with Ampelisca abdita and Mercenaria mercenaria. Analysis of sediment chemical characteristics showed that Cu and Zn are of most concern because their concentrations in 86 % of the sediments were higher than the threshold effect concentrations for Florida sediment quality criteria and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Screening Quick Reference Tables (SQuiRTs) sediment values. There was no significant effect on survival of the tested organisms. However, increased Cu and Zn concentrations in the test organisms were found. Dry weight of the tested organisms was also inversely related to Cu and Zn concentrations in sediments and organisms. The effects on organism weight and Cu and Zn uptake raise concerns about the organism population dynamics of the ecosystem because benthic organisms are primary food sources in the SLE system and are continuously exposed to Cu- and Zn-contaminated sediments throughout their life cycle. The results of the present study also indicate that Cu and Zn exposures by way of sediment ingestion are important routes of exposure.


Acid Volatile Sulfide Indian River Lagoon Apple Snail South Fork Citrus Grove 
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We thank Dr. Joan Browder of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Miami, Florida, USA) for funding this research under contract WC133F-09-CQ-0006 “Ecological Studies of Trophic Web Species and Potential Harmful Materials found in the St. Lucie Estuarine System” with the Florida International University. We are grateful to Indra Chacin Lares, Abraham Smith, and Dr. Brandi Echols in the ERAL of Florida International University for their assistance with conducting the study. We thank David Treering at the Loyola Institute of Environmental Sustainability for his assistance with the sampling map. This is contribution number 657 from the Southeast Environmental Research Center at Florida International University.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 17 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ecotoxicology and Risk Assessment Laboratory, Earth & Environment Department, Southeast Environmental Research CenterFlorida International UniversityNorth Miami BeachUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Environmental SustainabilityLoyola University ChicagoChicagoUSA

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