Ocean acidification increases the toxicity of contaminated sediments

Roberts, David A., Birchenough, Silvana N.R., Lewis, Ceri, Sanders, Matthew B., Bolam, Thi, and Sheahan, Dave (2013) Ocean acidification increases the toxicity of contaminated sediments. Global Change Biology, 19 (2). pp. 340-351.

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Ocean acidification (OA) may alter the behaviour of sediment-bound metals, modifying their bioavailability and thus toxicity. We provide the first experimental test of this hypothesis with the amphipod Corophium volutator. Amphipods were exposed to two test sediments, one with relatively high metals concentrations (Σ(metals) 239 mg kg⁻¹) and a reference sediment with lower contamination (Σ(metals) 82 mg kg⁻¹) under conditions that mimic current and projected conditions of OA (390–1140 μatm pCO₂). Survival and DNA damage was measured in the amphipods, whereas the flux of labile metals was measured in the sediment and water column (WC) using Diffusive Gradients in Thin-films. The contaminated sediments became more acutely toxic to C. volutator under elevated pCO₂ (1140 μatm). There was also a 2.7-fold increase in DNA damage in amphipods exposed to the contaminated sediment at 750 μatm pCO₂, as well as increased DNA damage in organisms exposed to the reference sediment, but only at 1140 μatm pCO₂. The projected pCO₂ concentrations increased the flux of nickel and zinc to labile states in the WC and pore water. However, the increase in metal flux at elevated pCO₂ was equal between the reference and contaminated sediments or, occasionally, greater from reference sediments. Hence, the toxicological interaction between OA and contaminants could not be explained by effects of pH on metal speciation. We propose that the additive physiological effects of OA and contaminants will be more important than changes in metal speciation in determining the responses of benthos to contaminated sediments under OA. Our data demonstrate clear potential for near-future OA to increase the susceptibility of benthic ecosystems to contaminants. Environmental policy should consider contaminants within the context of changing environmental conditions. Specifically, sediment metals guidelines may need to be reevaluated to afford appropriate environmental protection under future conditions of OA.

Item ID: 27203
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-2486
Keywords: contaminated sediment; Corophium volutator; DNA damage; metals; ocean acidification; toxicity
Date Deposited: 28 May 2013 06:55
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9611 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water > 961104 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water in Marine Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960399 Climate and Climate Change not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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