Acute and chronic toxicity of copper (Cu) to a unionid mussel (Villosa iris) and a cladoceran (Ceriodaphnia dubia) were determined in water exposures at four concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC; nominally 0.5, 2.5, 5, and 10 mg/L as carbon [C]). Test waters with DOC concentrations of 2.5 to 10 mg C/L were prepared by mixing a concentrate of natural organic matter (Suwannee River, GA, USA) in diluted well water (hardness 100 mg/L as CaCO3, pH 8.3, DOC 0.5 mg C/L). Acute median effect concentrations (EC50s) for dissolved Cu increased approximately fivefold (15–72 µg Cu/L) for mussel survival in 4-d exposures and increased about 11-fold (25–267 µg Cu/L) for cladoceran survival in 2-d exposures across DOC concentrations from 0.5 to 10 mg C/L. Similarly, chronic 20% effect concentrations (EC20s) for the mussel in 28-d exposures increased about fivefold (13–61 µg Cu/L for survival; 8.8–38 µg Cu/L for biomass), and the EC20s for the cladoceran in 7-d exposures increased approximately 17-fold (13–215 µg Cu/L) for survival or approximately fourfold (12–42 µg Cu/L) for reproduction across DOC concentrations from 0.5 to 10 mg C/L. The acute and chronic values for the mussel were less than or approximately equal to the values for the cladoceran. Predictions from the biotic ligand model (BLM) used to derive the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ambient water quality criteria (AWQC) for Cu explained more than 90% of the variation in the acute and chronic endpoints for the two species, with the exception of the EC20 for cladoceran reproduction (only 46% of variation explained). The BLM-normalized acute EC50s and chronic EC20s for the mussel and BLM-normalized chronic EC20s for the cladoceran in waters with DOC concentrations of 2.5 to 10 mg C/L were equal to or less than the final acute value and final chronic value in the BLM-based AWQC for Cu, respectively, indicating that the Cu AWQC might not adequately protect the mussel from acute and chronic exposure, and the cladoceran from chronic exposure. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2011;30:2115–2125. © 2011 SETAC
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