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The analysis of several closely related species, a guild, may be a practical and informative technique for studying the ecological effects of toxic substances. The five criteria of taxonomic simplicity, commonness, sensitivity, available literature, and laboratory practicality define guilds appropriate for community toxicity testing. As an example, the benthic macroinvertebrate community and a guild of three coexisting species of the caddisfly larva, Hydropsyche, were analyzed along a Swedish river, Kolbäcksån, with a history of heavy metal pollution. There was an increase in the relative proportion of early instar H. siltalai within the guild with increasing heavy metal pollution. The increase in early instar H. siltalai was correlated with a decrease in later instar H. pellucidula. More severe disturbance resulted in the removal of H. pellucidula and a reduction in H. siltalai density, while the more tolerant species, H. angustipennis, remained unchanged. Analysis of the guild leads to the conclusion that metal pollution not only eliminates species and reduces population density but changes interspecific interactions among members of the guild.
ecotoxicology, caddisflies, Hydropsyche, guild, streams, population, metal pollution, community, toxicity
Limnology Institute, Lund,