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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 183:189-203 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/meps183189

Trace metal uptake rates in crustaceans (amphipods and crabs) from coastal sites in NW Europe differentially enriched with trace metals

P. S. Rainbow1,*, C. Amiard-Triquet2, J. C. Amiard2, B. D. Smith1, S. L. Best3, Y. Nassiri4, W. J. Langston5

1Dept of Zoology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Rd, London SW7 5BD, United Kingdom
2 Service d'Ecotoxicologie, CNRS-EP 61, ISOMer, Faculté de Pharmacie, 1 rue Gaston Veil, F-44035 Nantes Cedex 01, France
3School of Biological Sciences, Queen Mary & Westfield College, London E1 4NS, United Kingdom
4Laboratoire de Biologie Marine, CNRS-EP 61, ISOMer, Faculté des Sciences et Techniques, 2 rue de la Houssinière, BP 92208, F-44322 Nantes Cedex 03, France
5Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Citadel Hill, Plymouth PL1 2PB, United Kingdom

ABSTRACT: This study set out to investigate the possible effect of life history strategy on the trace metal biology of crustaceans living in coastal sites contaminated by high availabilities of toxic metals. Amphipods brood their young, parents and offspring staying in the same habitat. Therefore a population of amphipods living in a trace-metal-rich estuary would have been selected over generations for any physiological adaptation reducing the potential toxic action of the trace metals, such as reduced rates of uptake of metals from solution. Crabs, on the other hand, are dispersed by a planktonic larval phase, the zoea, increasing the probability that the parents of individuals inhabiting a metal-rich estuary would have lived in a remote location not exposed to selection pressure to reduce metal uptake rates. Uptake rates of the dissolved trace metals Zn, Cd and Ag were, therefore, measured in amphipods Orchestia gammarellus and crabs Carcinus maenas and Pachygrapsus marmoratus from coastal sites in Britain and France exposed to different degrees of trace metal enrichment, in order to test 3 hypotheses: (1) the mean metal uptake rates of amphipods and crabs from a metal-rich site would be lower than those of the same crustaceans from a control site; (2) the mean metal uptake rates of amphipods would show a greater reduction from those of control amphipods than would those of equivalent crabs; (3) the mean metal uptake rates of amphipods from metal-rich sites would show smaller coefficients of variation than those of equivalent crabs. In practice the mean metal uptake rates of both amphipods and crabs did not show consistent significant differences between the crustaceans from the metal-rich and control sites. Furthermore there was no evidence to conclude that the coefficients of variation of the mean uptake rates of amphipods from the relatively metal-rich sites are lower than those of crabs from the same sites. It is concluded that the exposure of the crustaceans to raised trace metal availabilities has not been sufficient to select for a reduction in dissolved trace metal uptake rates, even in the case of the in situ populations of amphipods. It is relevant that a suite of physiological mechanisms for the amelioration of the potential toxic effects of trace metals is available to coastal invertebrates, and it remains possible that other physiological processes promoting metal tolerance may be active to differing degrees in crustaceans from metal-rich habitats.

KEY WORDS: Trace metals · Uptake rates · Amphipods · Crabs · Orchestia gammarellus · Carcinus maenas · Pachygrapsus marmoratus · Life history

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