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Sentinel Species in Oceans and Human Health

Abstract

A sentinel marine species is one which can provide early warning of existing or emerging health hazards from the ocean environment. Sentinel species are generally considered in two categories: (1) those which are sensitive indicators of a chemical contaminant, biological toxin, or pathogen due to their ability to concentrate or integrate exposures within a food web or ecosystem, and (2) marine organisms with physiology and/or diet similar enough to humans such that they may provide early indication of potential adverse health effects and provide insight into toxic mechanisms of a given hazardous agent.

Keywords

  • Marine Mammal
  • Bottlenose Dolphin
  • Domoic Acid
  • Chemical Contaminant
  • English Sole

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

This chapter was originally published as part of the Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology edited by Robert A. Meyers. DOI:10.1007/978-1-4419-0851-3

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Abbreviations

Bioaccumulation:

The accumulation of a substance in an organism. Bioaccumulation occurs when a substance is absorbed by an organism at a more rapid rate than it is metabolized and/or excreted by the organism.

Bioavailable:

Being in a state that can be readily absorbed by an animal.

Biomagnification:

The increase in concentration of a chemical or toxin that occurs as it is passed up the food chain.

Confounding factor:

A factor that correlates with both the exposure and response (i.e., independent and dependent variables in statistical terminology) so that it masks an actual association or falsely indicates an apparent association.

Epidemiology:

The study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states in populations.

Exposure:

Disease-causing factors, including infectious, toxic, nutritional, traumatic, genetic, degenerative, physiological, social, and behavioral.

HAB:

Harmful algal bloom, a proliferation or aggregation of algae forming dense patches which are harmful to the environment, plants, or animals. The harmful algae may produce hazardous toxins or may harm other marine organisms by depleting oxygen and blocking sunlight.

Hazardous agent:

Any chemical contaminant, biological toxin, or pathogen which presents a threat to human or animal health.

PAH:

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, a class of environmental pollutants that occur in oil and coal and are produced as byproducts of fuel burning. The toxicity of PAHs depends on the structure of the specific compound but many are carcinogens and/or have been linked to congenital defects.

Pathogenicity:

The ability of an agent to cause disease.

PCBs:

Polychlorinated biphenyls, a class of persistent chemicals with a broad range of toxic effects. PCBs were widely used in industrial applications until the late 1970s when their manufacture was banned in the USA.

POPs:

Persistent organic pollutants, organic compounds that persist in the environment because they are resistant to degradation and tend to bioaccumulate in animal tissues.

Zoonotic pathogen:

A pathogen that can be transmitted between animals and humans.

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Correspondence to Lori H. Schwacke .

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Schwacke, L.H., Gulland, F.M., White, S. (2013). Sentinel Species in Oceans and Human Health. In: Laws, E. (eds) Environmental Toxicology. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5764-0_18

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