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Chironomids in Sediment Toxicity Testing

Surface Water Hydrology

  1. Paul K. Sibley

Published Online: 15 JUL 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047147844X.sw82

Water Encyclopedia

Water Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Sibley, P. K. 2005. Chironomids in Sediment Toxicity Testing. Water Encyclopedia. 3:50–57.

Author Information

  1. University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2005


Since it was first recognized that sediments served as significant repository for contaminants, research in the field of sediment toxicology has largely focused on the development and validation of methods to assess sediment toxicity. Several invertebrate species have played an integral role in the assessment of sediment toxicity in freshwater systems, but arguably none have been used more extensively than the two midge species Chironomus tentans and C. riparius. The adoption of these two midges for sediment toxicity testing reflects their ecological relevance in aquatic systems, tolerance to a wide range of sediment characteristics, short generation times and amenability to culturing, relative insensitivity to manipulation, and wide acceptance among regulatory agencies. The most commonly applied standard test using both C. tentans and C. riparius is the 10-d survival and growth assay. However, a standardized life cycle test using C. tentans is also available in which survival, growth, emergence, and reproduction can be evaluated. This article presents detailed methods and practical insights pertaining to the use of the 10-d and life cycle tests and discusses potential future applications of Chironomus spp. in sediment toxicity testing.


  • sediment toxicity;
  • test methods;
  • Chironomus tentans;
  • Chironomus riparius;
  • acute toxicity;
  • chronic toxicity;
  • life cycle test