Causes and ecological effects of resuspended contaminated sediments (RCS) in marine environments

Roberts, David A. (2012) Causes and ecological effects of resuspended contaminated sediments (RCS) in marine environments. Environment International, 40 (2012). pp. 230-243.

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Abstract

Sediments act as a net sink for anthropogenic contaminants in marine ecosystems and contaminated sediments may have a range of toxicological effects on benthic fauna and associated species. When resuspended, however, particulate-bound contaminants may be remobilised into the water column and become bioavailable to an additional assemblage of species. Such resuspension occurs through a range of natural and anthropogenic processes each of which may be thought of as pulsed disturbances resulting in pulsed exposures to contaminants. Thus, it is important to understand not only the toxicological responses of organisms to resuspended contaminated sediments (RCS), but also the frequency, magnitude and duration of sediment disturbance events. Such information is rarely collected together with toxicological data. Rather, the majority of published studies (> 50% of the articles captured in this review) have taken the form of fixed-duration laboratory-based exposures with individual species. While this research has clearly demonstrated that resuspension of contaminated sediments can liberate sediment-bound contaminants leading to toxicity and bioaccumulation under controlled conditions, the potential for ecological effects in the field is often unclear. Monitoring studies suggest that recurrent natural disturbances such as tides and waves may cause the majority of contaminant release in many environments. However, various processes also act to limit the spatial and temporal scales across which contaminants are remobilised to the most toxic dissolved state. Various natural and anthropogenic disturbances of contaminated sediments have been linked to both community-level and sub-lethal responses in exposed populations of invertebrates and fish in the field. Together these findings suggest that resuspension of contaminated sediments is a frequently recurring ecological threat in contaminated marine habitats. Further consideration of how marine communities respond to temporally variable exposures to RCS is required, as well as research into the relative importance of various disturbances under field conditions.

Item ID: 27202
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-6750
Keywords: resuspension; disturbance; remobilisation; contaminated sediments; ecotoxicology
Date Deposited: 28 May 2013 06:46
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050204 Environmental Impact Assessment @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9611 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water > 961104 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water in Marine Environments @ 50%
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