Avoidance of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon–contaminated sediments by the freshwater invertebrates Gammarus pulex and Asellus aquaticus

Authors

  • Hendrika J. De Lange,

    Corresponding author
    1. Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 8080, 6700 DD Wageningen, The Netherlands
    • Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 8080, 6700 DD Wageningen, The Netherlands
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  • Veerle Sperber,

    1. Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 8080, 6700 DD Wageningen, The Netherlands
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  • Edwin T. H. M. Peeters

    1. Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 8080, 6700 DD Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Abstract

Contamination of sediments is a serious problem in most industrialized areas. Sediments are often contaminated with trace metals and organic contaminants like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Bio-assays are often used to determine the effect of contaminants on biota. However, survival or growth may not be the most sensitive endpoints. Behavioral changes often occur at much lower concentrations. Our study aimed to assess the effect of PAHs on habitat choice of two common freshwater invertebrates, the amphipod Gammarus pulex and the isopod Asellus aquaticus. We spiked clean field sediment with a mixture of four PAHs, fluoranthene, pyrene, chrysene, and benzo[k]fluoranthene, to a total concentration of 30 mg PAH/kg dry weight. Both species were offered a choice between PAH-spiked sediments and clean sediments in laboratory experiments. Results show that both species avoid PAH-spiked sediment. Origin of the population, either from a clean reference site or from a polluted site, did not affect habitat choice of either species.

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