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Aquat Toxicol. 2001 Nov 12;55(3-4):239-49.

Effects of atrazine on periphyton under grazing pressure.

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Department Ecologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Av. Diagonal 645, 08028 Barcelona, Spain.


An experiment was carried out using indoor experimental channels to assess the long-term effect (18 days) of herbivores (Physella acuta, Gastropoda) on periphyton communities exposed to low levels of atrazine (14 microg l(-1)). We hypothesized that herbivorism modifies the response of periphyton to atrazine. Carbon incorporation, chlorophyll-a content, biovolume and algal taxonomic composition in the channels that contained atrazine were not significantly different from the control channels (not receiving atrazine). In channels with grazers and atrazine, there was a significant reduction of carbon incorporation and algal density. In this treatment, physiognomic forms and algal composition were significantly different from the others. The biomass of grazers (measured as change in dry mass) was not significantly affected by the addition of atrazine. Grazers maintained low levels of periphyton biomass, enhancing algal cell exposition to toxicant and inhibiting any adaptation of the algae to the toxic exposure. The increase in atrazine toxicity with grazing not only affected the metabolism, but also the structure of the algal community, which suggests that effects were not transient but permanent.

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