Assessment of the effects of nickel on benthic macroinvertebrates in the field

Peters, Adam; Simpson, Peter; Merrington, Graham; Schlekat, Chris; Rogevich-Garman, Emily
January 2014
Environmental Science & Pollution Research;Jan2014, Vol. 21 Issue 1, p193
Academic Journal
A field-based evaluation of the biological effects of potential nickel (Ni) exposures was conducted using monitoring data for benthic macroinvertebrates and water chemistry parameters for streams in England and Wales. Observed benthic community metrics were compared to expected community metrics under reference conditions using RIVPACS III+ software. In order to evaluate relationships between Ni concentrations and benthic community metrics, bioavailable Ni concentrations were also calculated for each site. A limiting effect from Ni on the 90th percentile of the maximum achievable ecological quality was derived at 'bioavailable Ni' exposures of 10.3 μg l. As snails have been identified as particularly sensitive to nickel exposure, snail abundance in the field in response to nickel exposure, relative to reference conditions, was also analysed. A 'low effects' threshold for snail abundance based on an average of spring and autumn data was derived as 3.9 μg l bioavailable Ni. There was no apparent effect of Ni exposure on the abundance of Ephemeroptera (mayflies), Plecoptera (stoneflies) or Tricoptera (caddisflies) when expressed relative to a reference condition within the range of 'bioavailable Ni' exposures observed within the dataset. Nickel exposure concentrations co-vary with the concentrations of other stressors in the dataset, and high concentrations of Ni are also associated with elevated concentrations of other contaminants.


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