The accumulation of Zn, Se, Cd and Pb and physiological condition of Anadara trapezia transplanted to a contamination gradient in Lake Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia

William Maher, Anthony Roach, Frank Krikowa, P Honkoop, B Bayne

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The benthic bivalve, Anadara trapezia, was collected from a ‘clean’ reference site and transplanted along a suspected trace metal contamination gradient in Lake Macquarie, NSW. At monthly intervals, Zn, Se, Cd and Pb concentrations were measured in the surficial sediments and whole tissues of the cockle as well as their physiological condition (Scope for Growth).
Zinc, Cd and Pb concentrations in sediments decreased together, southward, with the highest concentrations in the Cockle Bay area, suggesting that this is the main source of contamination. Zinc, Cd and Pb concentrations were near or above [ANZECC/ARMCANZ, 2000. National water quality management strategy paper 4. Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality, Australian and New Zealand Conservation Council and Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand. pp. 3.5.-1–3.5-10] sediment quality guidelines at Cockle Creek, Warners Bay and Koorooa Bay. Significant differences in trace metal concentrations could not be attributed to grain size or Fe concentration differences. Se concentrations were highest in fine grain Fe rich sediments of Whiteheads Lagoon, and likely to be associated with power generation operations. Trace metal concentrations did not vary significantly over time.

Zinc, Cd and Pb concentrations in the tissues of A. trapezia followed a similar pattern to that of sediments. Zinc and Pb concentrations in cockles and sediments were highly correlated, indicating significant exposure–dose relationships. Selenium concentrations in the tissues of A. trapezia were higher after transplantation to the lake, however, Se concentrations were similar in all transplanted cockles, indicating that Se in contaminated sediments is not the major source of Se to organisms.
There was a decline in the physiological condition of A. trapezia transplanted to Lake Macquarie after a 90-day-period with marked differences in clearance rates and respiration rates at some locations and absorption efficiencies at all locations. The mean Scope for Growth value at the most contaminated location, Cockle Bay, was markedly lower than at other locations. A significant Zn exposure–dose response relationship indicates that Zn bioaccumulation is occurring in response to sediment contamination. A significant Cd exposure–response relationship indicates that Cd may be influencing the health of cockles. Significant Pb exposure–dose, exposure–response and dose–response relationships indicate that Pb probably is affecting the health of cockles in Lake Macquarie. Therefore, Zn, Cd and Pb concentrations in sediments are likely to be affecting the health of cockles in Lake Macquarie
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-78
Number of pages25
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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