A Conceptual Framework for Using Mussels as Biomonitors in Whole Effluent Toxicity
As a main source of direct and continuous input of pollutants in the aquatic ecosystem, studying the effects of effluents on receiving ecosystems has a high ecological relevance. While ecological risk assessment procedures are usually based on a chemical-based single component approach, their application for complex mixtures and effluents is less straightforward. A chemical-based approach has to rely on the knowledge of what chemicals are present in effluents, their potential toxicity, how all of these individual chemicals interact and what their individual and combined contribution to the mixture is. Whole effluent toxicity (WET) testing, however, is an integrative tool that measures the toxic effect of an effluent as a whole and accounts for uncharacterized sources of toxicity and for interactions. This paper addresses the use of transplanted bivalves, i.e., caged mussels, as a biomonitoring tool in WET testing with special reference to field situations in both freshwater and marine environments. We indicate how endpoints at different levels of biological organization within exposed mussels can give an integrative overview of effects. Finally, we will provide a framework for future research using mussels and discuss a multitude of instream responses for routine, efficient and cost-effective active biomonitoring applications.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1: University of Antwerp (RUCA), Department of Biology, Antwerp, Belgium. 2: Rand Afrikaans University, Department of Zoology, Johannesburg, South Africa
Publication date: 01 May 2003