Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Mar Environ Res. 2007 Jul;64(1):1-20. Epub 2006 Nov 12.

An assessment of the impact of copper mine tailings disposal on meiofaunal assemblages using microcosm bioassays.

Author information

Departamento de Ecología, Center for Advanced Studies in Ecology and Biodiversity, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Alameda 340, Santiago, Chile.


Microcosms were used to assess the impact of copper mine tailings disposal on the littoral meiofaunal assemblages of the Atacama region of northern Chile. The specific purpose was to establish a cause and effect relationship between the elevated copper concentrations and altered meiofaunal assemblages observed at the study sites. Meiofaunal assemblages were exposed to a series of copper concentrations to assess general toxicity, both densities and taxa diversities decreased with increasing copper. Natural coarse sediments were mixed with a tailings substitute to assess the physical impact of the tailings dumping on meiofaunal assemblages. Meiofaunal assemblage densities increased with increasing amounts of tailings substitute, entirely due to an increase in surface utilising foraminiferans. However, taxa diversities decreased as the interstitial spaces became blocked. Finally, the microcosms were used to conduct bioassays of sediments and seawaters from the impacted sites. The sediments from the impacted sites proved to be toxic resulting in reduced meiofaunal densities and taxa diversities. Seawater samples did not prove to be significantly toxic. The use of microcosms has allowed the effects of the physical and chemical components of tailings to be assessed individually, which was not possible in the field. Additionally, it allowed a cause and effect relationship to be established between elevated concentrations of porewater copper observed in the field and the reduced densities and taxa diversities of the meiofaunal assemblages observed at the same sites.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center