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Sediment quality assessment using Gmelinoides fasciatus and Monoporeia affinis (Amphipoda, Gammaridea) in the northeastern Baltic Sea

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Crustaceans in the order Amphipoda are sensitive organisms for the assessment of sediment quality. In this work we performed 10-day toxicity tests on muddy sediments collected from a total of 29 sites in the Gulf of Finland, the Gulf of Riga and the Gulf of Bothnia (northeastern Baltic Sea) using Baltic Sea species such as the native amphipod Monoporeia affinis (Bousfield, 1989) and the invasive amphipod Gmelinoides fasciatus (Stebbing, 1899), and also compared these results with those of bioassays carried out using the standard test species, laboratory-cultivated amphipod Hyalella azteca (Saussure, 1858). The sediment samples (three cm of the upper layer) were collected by a GEMAX Dual Corer during the R/V “Aranda” cruises in August and September of 2009 and 2010. Toxicity of sediments in bioassays with M. affinis and G. fasciatus gave varied results depending on the amphipod species used. The lowest quality of sediments determined using M. affinis was recorded at sites located in the offshore and deepwater areas (60-100 m depths) of the Gulf of Finland characterized by hypoxic/anoxic conditions. Toxicity testing applying G. fasciatus showed that sediments at >50% of the study sites in the Gulf of Finland and in the Gulf of Riga can be assessed as highly contaminated. Males of G. fasciatus were significantly more sensitive to potential contamination in sediments than females. The lower survival of males under contaminant stress may result in a skewed sex ratio in natural populations and in a decline of reproduction success. The survival rate of G. fasciatus in the toxicity tests correlated positively with the Shannon diversity index (calculated for macrozoobenthos at the study sites), weight losses on ignition (%) in sediments, and it also showed a negative relation with the bottom water oxygen content (mg/l). The results suggest that G. fasciatus is the more sensitive species of the three amphipods tested and can be used as a indicator of sediment quality in the Baltic Sea and other water bodies.

Affiliations: 1: 1Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, University Embankment 1, RU-199034 St Petersburg, Russia; 2: 2Department of Hydrobiology, Faculty of Biology, University of Latvia, Kronvalda Boulevard 4, LV-1586 Riga, Latvia; 3: 3Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, Marine Research Centre, P.O. Box 140, FI-00251 Helsinki, Finland


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