Bioaccumulation surveillance in Milford Haven Waterway

Langston, W.J.; O'Hara, S.; Pope, N.D.; Davey, M.; Shortridge, E.; Imamura, M.; Harino, H.; Kim, A.; Vane, C. ORCID: 2012 Bioaccumulation surveillance in Milford Haven Waterway. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 184 (1). 289-311.

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Biomonitoring of contaminants (metals, organotins, PAHs, PCBs) was carried out along the Milford Haven Waterway (MHW) and at a reference site in the Tywi Estuary during 2007-2008. The species used as bioindicators encompass a variety of uptake routes - Fucus vesiculosus (dissolved contaminants); Littorina littorea (grazer); Mytilus edulis and Cerastoderma edule (suspension feeders); and Nereis diversicolor (omnivore which often reflects contaminants in sediment). Differences in feeding strategy and habitat preference have subtle implications for bioaccumulation trends though, with few exceptions, contaminant body burdens in Milford Haven (MH) were higher than those at the Tywi reference site, reflecting inputs. Elevated concentrations of metals were occasionally observed at individual MH sites, whilst As and Se (molluscs and seaweed) were, for much of MHW, consistently at the higher end of the UK range. However, for the majority of metals, distributions in MH biota were not exceptional by UK standards. Several metal-species combinations indicated increases in bioavailability at upstream sites, which may reflect the influence of geogenic or other land-based sources – perhaps enhanced by lower salinity (greater proportions of more bioavailable forms). TBT levels in MH mussels were below OSPAR toxicity thresholds and in the Tywi were close to zero. Phenyltins were not accumulated appreciably in Mytilus, whereas some Nereis populations may have been subjected to localized (historical) sources. PAHs in Nereis tended to be evenly distributed across most sites, but with somewhat higher values at Dale for acenaphthene, fluoranthene, pyrene, benzo(a)anthracene and chrysene; naphthalenes tended to be enriched further upstream in the mid-upper Haven (a pattern seen in mussels for most PAHs). Whilst concentrations in MH mussels were mostly above reference site and OSPAR backgrounds, it is unlikely that ecotoxicological guidelines would be exceeded. PCBs in mussels were between upper and lower OSPAR guidelines and were unusual in their distribution in that highest levels occurred at the mouth of MH. Condition indices (CI) of bivalves (mussels and cockles) were highest at the Tywi reference site and at the seaward end of MH, decreasing upstream along the Waterway. There were a number of significant (negative) relationships between CI and body burdens and multivariate analysis indicated that a combination of contaminants could influence the pattern in condition (and sub-lethal responses such as MT and TOSC) across sites. Cause and effect needs to be tested more rigorously in future assessments.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2010 > Climate Change Science
ISSN: 0167-6369
Date made live: 07 Mar 2012 17:29 +0 (UTC)

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