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Environ Pollut. 1998;99(2):215-23.

Reduced survival and body size in the terrestrial isopod Porcellio scaber from a metal-polluted environment.

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  • 1Ecotoxicology Group, School of Animal and Microbial Sciences, University of Reading, PO Box 228, Reading RG6 6AJ, UK.


Terrestrial isopods (woodlice) may show trade-offs in life history parameters when exposed to toxins. We have shown previously [Jones and Hopkin (1996) Functional Ecology 10, 741-750] that woodlice which survive to reproduce in sites heavily polluted with metals from an industrial smelting works do not alter their reproductive allocation. This study investigates whether there are differences in the survival and body size of Porcellio scaber from these same populations. Specimens were collected from eight sites at different distances from the Avonmouth smelter, UK. The sites represented a gradient of concentrations of Zn, Cd, Pb and Cu in the woodlice, from background levels to a grossly contaminated sites close to the smelter. In laboratory trials, the number of days survived by starved males showed a significant decline with increased concentrations of Zn in those animals. The maximum size of both sexes declined significantly from the least to the most polluted sites. The most polluted sites had significantly fewer large animals. The cost of detoxifying assimilated metals appears to be reduced energy reserves and smaller body size.


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