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Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2014 Mar;21(6):4643-55. doi: 10.1007/s11356-013-2390-6. Epub 2013 Dec 19.

Sensitivity of hypogean and epigean freshwater copepods to agricultural pollutants.

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Istituto per lo Studio degli Ecosistemi-CNR, Via Madonna del Piano 10, Sesto Fiorentino, 50019, Florence, Italy,


Widespread pollution from agriculture is one of the major causes of the poor freshwater quality currently observed across Europe. Several studies have addressed the direct impact of agricultural pollutants on freshwater biota by means of laboratory bioassays; however, as far as copepod crustaceans are concerned, the ecotoxicological research is scarce for freshwater species and almost nonexistent for the hypogean ones. In this study, we conducted a comparative analysis of the available literature data on the sensitivity of freshwater copepods to agricultural pollutants. We also assessed the acute and chronic sensitivity of a hypogean and an epigean species, both belonging to the Crustacea Copepoda Cyclopoida Cyclopidae, to two N-fertilizers (urea and ammonium nitrate) and two herbicides (ARIANE(TM) II from Dow AgroSciences LLC, and Imazamox), widely used for cereal agriculture in Europe. According to the literature review, freshwater copepods are sensitive to a range of pesticides and N-fertilizers. Ecotoxicological studies on hypogean species of copepods account only one study. There are no standardized protocols available for acute and chronic toxicity tests for freshwater copepods, making comparisons about sensitivity difficult. From our experiments, ionized ammonia proved to be more toxic than the herbicide Imazamox, in both short and chronic bioassays. Urea was the less toxic chemical for both species. The hypogean species was more sensitive than the epigean one to all chemicals. For both species and for all tested chemicals, acute lethality and chronic lethality were induced at concentrations higher than the law limits of good water body quality in Europe, except for ionized ammonia, which provoked the chronic lethality of the hypogean species at a lower concentration. The hazardous concentration (HC) of un-ionized ammonia for 5 % of freshwater copepods, obtained by a species sensitivity distribution, was 92 μg l(-1), significantly lower than the HC computed for traditional test species from freshwater environments.

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