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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Bioaccumulation of Heavy Metals in Tremadtode Euhaplorchis californiensis: Use of Parasites in Environmental Monitoring and Impact Assessments


It is informative to understand the effects of pollutants on the host-parasite interactions between parasites and their aquatic host organisms. The effects of pollutants on parasites can alter their role in an ecosystem, affecting host populations, biodiversity, and food webs, with potential cascading effects throughout the ecosystem. Furthermore, parasites are good proxies for monitoring the health of an ecosystem and can be used for environmental health assessments. Here, I selected few heavy metals such as Cd, Ag, Cr and Fe to explain the results for chapter 1 of the study, from the 20 metals tested. Samples of sediments, shell and snails’ soft tissues were analyzed using the ICP-OES. Concentrations of heavy metals for sediments were in the same range across the different sites within the marsh. The concentrations were also found to be in the same range for the different sections of the snail shell within the same individuals as well as two different populations. However the concentrations within the tissues varied where foot > digestive tract > mantle. Also, the population closer to the point source had higher level of heavy metals in all tissues compared to the population further away from the polluted site. This information will allow us to use parasites as bioindicators of marine pollution. While this study won’t get to the stage of analyzing the implications for the whole ecosystem, it is the first step to an extensive study in which the life cycle of one parasite is being looked at.

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