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Integrating contaminant responses in indicator saltmarsh species.


A challenge in environmental management is to provide both methodology and a framework for assessing effects of pollutants in resident species and then applying the findings to management. The Pacific Estuarine Ecosystem Indicator Research (PEEIR) consortium advocates the development of an integrated portfolio of techniques using indicator species selected for various habitat types. We developed such a portfolio for California salt marsh ecosystems and evaluated the feasibility of our approach in management applications. PEEIR is employing a suite of biomarker responses in two indigenous species, the lined shore crab (Pachygrapsus crassipes) and the longjaw mudsucker (Gillichthys mirabilis). Detrimental effects such as apoptosis, endocrine disruption, and ovarian tumors have been observed in G. mirabilis at a site where toxicity test responses were relatively low. With P. crassipes, developmental abnormalities and several markers of decreased reproductive performance were quantified at the same site. Multivariate statistical techniques are used to examine the relationships between the responses and multiple contaminant and natural stressors. For the fish, findings are related to population-level parameters using dynamic energy budget (DEB) models.

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