Living in highly dynamic polluted river floodplains, do contaminants contribute to population and community effects?

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Abstract

The aim of this paper was to collect evidence for the effects of contaminants on biota in a highly dynamic river Rhine floodplain. To this purpose we reviewed the results of circa 10 studies performed in this floodplain. The floodplain was contaminated with elevated levels of cadmium, copper, PAHs, and PCBs and high levels of zinc which were at some sites above legislative values. The results showed that the present contaminants were accumulated by the floodplain inhabiting organisms, but meanwhile population and community effects were ambiguous. Only for the mayfly Ephoron virgo clear effects were detected at the level of the single floodplain. The absence of clear population and community effects is puzzling since at lower contaminant concentrations adverse effects were detected in other environments. Factors that may mask toxic effects include flooding and food quality and quantity. We conclude that given the site specific conditions, being an open, eutrophic system with a highly dynamic flooding pattern, assessment of the contribution of toxicants to observed population density or biomass and community composition requires 1] an increase in number of replicates; 2] a larger scale of investigation and 3] comparison to stable systems with comparable contamination levels. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Klok, C., & Kraak, M. H. S. (2008). Living in highly dynamic polluted river floodplains, do contaminants contribute to population and community effects? Science of the Total Environment, 406(3), 455–461. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.05.058

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