Legacy and current‐use contaminants in sediments alter macroinvertebrate communities in southeastern US Streams

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
By: , and 



Sediment contamination of freshwater streams in urban areas is a recognized and growing concern. As a part of a comprehensive regional stream‐quality assessment, stream‐bed sediment was sampled from streams spanning a gradient of urban intensity in the Piedmont ecoregion of the southeastern United States. We evaluated relations between a broad suite of sediment contaminants (metals, current‐use pesticides, organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, brominated diphenyl ethers, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), ambient sediment toxicity, and macroinvertebrate communities from 76 sites. Sediment toxicity was evaluated by conducting whole‐sediment laboratory toxicity testing with the amphipod Hyalella azteca (for 28 d) and the midge Chironomus dilutus (for 10 d). Approximately one‐third of the sediment samples were identified as toxic for at least one test species endpoint, although concentrations of contaminants infrequently exceeded toxicity benchmarks. Ratios of contaminant concentrations relative to their benchmarks, both individually and as summed benchmark quotients, were explored on a carbon‐normalized and a dry‐weight basis. Invertebrate taxa measures from ecological surveys tended to decline with increasing urbanization and with sediment contamination. Toxicity test endpoints were more strongly related to sediment contamination than invertebrate community measures were. Sediment chemistry and sediment toxicity provided moderate and weak, respectively, explanatory power for the similarity/dissimilarity of invertebrate communities. The results indicate that current single‐chemical sediment benchmarks may underestimate the effects from mixtures of sediment contaminants experienced by lotic invertebrates. 

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Legacy and current‐use contaminants in sediments alter macroinvertebrate communities in southeastern US Streams
Series title Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
DOI 10.1002/etc.4705
Volume 39
Issue 6
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center, Columbia Environmental Research Center, Oregon Water Science Center, Texas Water Science Center, Washington Water Science Center, WMA - Earth System Processes Division
Description 14 p.
First page 1219
Last page 1232
Country United States
State Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Viriginia
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