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The salinity tolerance of freshwater macroinvertebrate eggs and hatchlings in comparison to their older life-stages: a diversity of responses

The salinity tolerance of freshwater macroinvertebrate eggs and hatchlings

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The tolerance to high salinity of older life stage macroinvertebrates could underestimate the effects of increasing salinity on freshwater macroinvertebrates. The salinity tolerance of the eggs and/or hatchlings of Glyptophysa gibbosa (Planorbidae), Glyptophysa aliciae, Glacidorbis sp. (Glacidorbidae), a Glossiponiidae, Piona cumberlandis (Pionidae), and Chironomus sp. (Chironomidae) were determined. The salinity tolerances of younger life-stages of species studied here and elsewhere were then compared to salinity tolerances of their mature aquatic or dominant life-stage. A diversity of responses have been observed with some species having similar salinity tolerances in all life-stages examined, whilst the eggs or hatchlings of other species had salinity tolerances ranging from 4% to 88% of their older life stages. On present knowledge, this diversity of responses presents some difficulties for simple rules of thumb to approximate sensitivity of young life-stages of freshwater macroinvertebrates inferred from their dominant stage’s tolerance.

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electrical conductivity

HC50 :

concentration to reduce hatching of eggs by 50%

LC50 :

concentration lethal to 50% of individuals


period for complete hatching


River water


wet lab water


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We are grateful to Land and Water Australia and the Murray Darling Basin Commission who funded this study under the National River Contaminants Program (project no. RMI 12), as well as additional funds from the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines. We particularly thank Colin Clay for his early assistance in this project. We thank Winston Ponders (Gastropods) and Mark Harvey (Mites) for confirming the identifications of specimens. The project benefited from a steering committee consisting of Satish Choy, Brendan Edgar, Richard Marchant, Leon Metzeling, Daryl Nielsen, Carolyn Palmer and Phil Papas and discussions with Jason Dunlop and Nelli Horrigan.

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Correspondence to Ben J. Kefford.

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Kefford, B.J., Nugegoda, D., Zalizniak, L. et al. The salinity tolerance of freshwater macroinvertebrate eggs and hatchlings in comparison to their older life-stages: a diversity of responses. Aquat Ecol 41, 335–348 (2007).

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