SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1986

Some Methods for Measuring Effects of Toxicants on Laboratory- and Field-Colonized Estuarine Benthic Communities


Effects of toxicants on estuarine macrobenthic animals that developed in sand-filled boxes in the laboratory and field during eight weeks were determined by comparing community structures in control boxes and in boxes treated with a toxicant. Boxes were colonized in the laboratory by planktonic larvae in continuously supplied unfiltered seawater and in the field by animals that occurred naturally. Field boxes were placed in estuarine waters, either near the laboratory or at salt-marsh sites subjected to contamination by mosquito control pesticide applications. Eight separate studies were conducted using the same test materials in laboratory and field tests. Communities that developed were diverse and averaged 1441 individuals, 30 species, and 6 phyla for laboratory tests and 933 individuals, 51 species, and 8 phyla for field tests. Toxicants were introduced via water, air, or sediment and before, during, or after colonization. Tests with laboratory- and field-colonized communities provided corroborating data as well as data unique to each test. Various structural attributes among laboratory, experimental field, and natural field communities were similar, indicating that data derived from the laboratory and field toxicity tests can have good environmental applicability.

Author Information

Tagatz, ME
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental Research Laboratory, Gulf Breeze, FL
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Developed by Committee: D19
Pages: 18–29
DOI: 10.1520/STP23046S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-4985-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-0488-4