The relative sensitivity of four benthic invertebrates to metals in spiked‐sediment exposures and application to contaminated field sediment Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractThe relative sensitivity of four benthic invertebrates (Hyalella azteca, Chironomus riparius, Hexagenia spp., and Tubifex tubifex) was determined for Cd, Cu, and Ni in water‐only and in spiked‐sediment exposures. Survival (median lethal concentrations [LC50s] and the concentrations estimated to be lethal to 25% of test organisms [LC25s]), and endpoints for growth and reproduction (mean inhibitory concentrations [IC25s]) were compared. The sensitivities differed depending on the species and metal, although some trends emerged. In water‐only exposures, H. azteca is the most sensitive species to cadmium and nickel, with mean LC50s of 0.013 and 3.6 mg/L, respectively; C. riparius is the most sensitive species to copper, with a mean LC50 of 0.043 mg/L. In the spiked‐sediment exposures, the order in decreasing sensitivity to copper is Hyalella = Hexagenia < Chironomus < Tubifex for survival and growth/reproduction. For cadmium, the order in decreasing sensitivity is Hyalella = Chironomus < Hexagenia < Tubifex, and for nickel is HyalellaHexagenia < Chironomus < Tubifex. Chironomus riparius and Hexagenia spp. survival can be used to distinguish between toxicity caused by different metals. Species test responses in field‐collected sediment (Collingwood Harbour, ON, Canada) were examined in an attempt to determine the causative agent of toxicity throughout, using the established species sensitivities. Sediment toxicity was categorized first by comparing species responses to those established for a reference database. Test responses in the field‐collected sediment do not support causality by Cu, a suspected toxicant based on comparison of sediment chemistry with sediment quality guidelines.


  • Milani, Danielle
  • Reynoldson, Trefor B
  • Borgmann, Uwe
  • Kolasa, Jurek

publication date

  • April 2003