MEPS 367:35-47 (2008)  -  doi:10.3354/meps07569

Domoic acid contamination within eight representative species from the benthic food web of Monterey Bay, California, USA

Rikk G. Kvitek1,*, Judah D. Goldberg2, G. Jason Smith3, Gregory J. Doucette4, Mary W. Silver5

1Division of Science and Environmental Policy, California State University Monterey Bay, 100 Campus Center, Seaside, California 93955, USA
2NortekUSA, 2709 51st Avenue SW, Seattle, Washington 98116, USA
3Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, 8272 Moss Landing Road, Moss Landing, California 95039, USA
4Marine Biotoxins Program, NOAA/National Ocean Service, 219 Fort Johnson Road, Charleston, South Carolina 29412, USA
5Department of Ocean Sciences, University of California at Santa Cruz, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA

ABSTRACT: Benthic food webs often derive a significant fraction of their nutrient inputs from phytoplankton in the overlying waters. If the phytoplankton include harmful algal species like Pseudo-nitzschia australis, a diatom capable of producing the neurotoxin domoic acid (DA), the benthic food web can become a depository for phycotoxins. We tested the general hypothesis that DA contaminates benthic organisms during local blooms of P. australis, a widespread toxin producer along the US west coast. To test for trophic transfer and uptake of DA into the benthic food web, we sampled 8 benthic species comprising 4 feeding groups: filter feeders (Emerita analoga and Urechis caupo); a predator (Citharichthys sordidus); scavengers (Nassarius fossatus and Pagurus samuelis) and deposit feeders (Neotrypaea californiensis, Dendraster excentricus and Olivella biplicata). Sampling occurred before, during and after blooms of P. australis in Monterey Bay, CA, USA during 2000 and 2001. DA was detected in all 8 species, with contamination persisting over variable time scales. Maximum DA levels in N. fossatus (674 ppm), E. analoga (278 ppm), C. sordidus (515 ppm), N. californiensis (145 ppm), P. samuelis (56 ppm), D. excentricus (15 ppm) and O. biplicata (3 ppm) coincided with P. australis blooms, while DA levels in U. caupo remained above 200 ppm (max. = 751 ppm) throughout the study period. DA in 6 species exceeded levels thought to be safe for higher level consumers (i.e. ≥20 ppm) and thus is likely to have deleterious effects on marine birds, sea lions and the endangered California sea otter, known to prey upon these benthic species.

KEY WORDS: Domoic acid · Food web · Benthic · Harmful algal bloom · Pseudo-nitzschia · Trophic transfer

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Cite this article as: Kvitek RG, Goldberg JD, Smith GJ, Doucette GJ, Silver MW (2008) Domoic acid contamination within eight representative species from the benthic food web of Monterey Bay, California, USA. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 367:35-47

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