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Benthos-drift relationships as proxies for the detection of the most suitable bioindicator taxa in flowing waters – a pilot-study within a Mediterranean karst river

Sertić Perić, Mirela; Matoničkin Kepčija, Renata; Miliša, Marko; Gottstein, Sanja; Lajtner, Jasna; Dragun, Zrinka; Filipović Marijić, Vlatka; Krasnići, Nesrete; Ivanković, Dušica; Erk, Marijana (2018) Benthos-drift relationships as proxies for the detection of the most suitable bioindicator taxa in flowing waters – a pilot-study within a Mediterranean karst river. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 163 . pp. 125-135. ISSN 0147-6513

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Mediterranean karst aquifers are sensitive systems vulnerable to contamination, exhibiting high rates of diversity and endemicity. In the present pilot-study, we aimed to detect the most suitable bioindicators of contaminant accumulation and mobilization within a Mediterranean karst river (Krka River, Croatia), whose lowermost sections belong to a designated protection area (national park). To meet our goal, we sampled water, drift and benthos (macroinvertebrates and periphytic microfauna) at the two Krka River sites, located upstream and downstream from town Knin and its urban influences. We compared: 1) environmental conditions (water physico-chemical parameters, trace- and macro-element concentrations) ; 2) abundance and diversity of periphyton and macroinvertebrate taxa constituting benthos ; and 3) macroinvertebrate benthos-drift relationships between the two sites. Despite higher values of all measured physico-chemical parameters, and most trace- and macro-element concentrations at the urban-influenced site, the concentrations of contamination indicators (i.e., COD, nutrients, metals) at both sites were generally low. This is likely a result of specific “self-purification ability” of the Krka River, mediated by relatively high contaminant retention potential of the underlying tufa (i.e., calcareous) and/or macrophyte substrates. Between-site differences in water quality further affected the spatial variation of macrozoobenthos, drift, and periphytic microfauna. We suggest that increased COD and orthophosphate concentration, and macrophyte presence at the urban-influenced site, supported higher densities and diversity of benthic organisms dominated by eurivalent (i.e., contamination-tolerant) taxa. The most numerous macroinvertebrate taxa in benthos were amphipod Gammarus balcanicus and the representatives of the endemic Dinaric karst taxa - gastropods Emmericia patula and Radomaniola curta germari, and another amphipod Echinogammarus acarinatus. Although we expected to observe significantly increased drift at the urban-influenced site due to the degraded environmental conditions, it was not observed. The observed benthos-drift patterns suggest that freshwater amphipods (i.e., gammarids), which were found most numerous in drift, could be considered as the most suitable bioindicators of a contaminant (i.e., metal) accumulation and mobilization within karst aquifers comparable to Krka River.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This work was supported by the Croatian Science Foundation, within the project "Accumulation, subcellular mapping and effects of trace metals in aquatic organisms" AQUAMAPMET (IP-2014-09-4255).
Uncontrolled Keywords: urban influence ; contaminant pathway ; protected landscape ; Amphipoda ; physico-chemical parameters ; metal contamination
Subjects: NATURAL SCIENCES > Geology
Divisions: Division for Marine and Enviromental Research
Project titleProject leaderProject codeProject type
Akumulacija, unutarstanično mapiranje i učinci metala u tragovima u akvatičkih organizama-AQUAMAPMETMarijana ErkIP-2014-09-4255HRZZ
Depositing User: Vlatka Filipović Marijić
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2020 13:38
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2018.07.068

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