Sediment quality of the ecoregion Engure, Gulf of Riga, assessed by using ecotoxicity tests and biomarker responses

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to assess sediment quality in the ecoregion Engure, western coast of the Gulf of Riga, by using sediment ecotoxicity tests with amphipods Monoporeia affinis and Pontogammarus robustoides and selected biomarkers (AChE, GST, GR, CAT, MT) measured in Macoma balthica, to represent different types of biological responses reacting to different stressors. Ecoregion Engure sediments are characterised by comparatively low concentrations of heavy metals, and the area could be considered as unpolluted. Ecotoxicity tests of ecoregion Engure sediments did not show statistically significant (> 20% mortality) toxic effects. Survival of test organisms ranged from 83 to 100% and revealed “good quality” of tested sediment. There were no established strong differences between the stations and years regarding biomarkers. The integrated biomarker response index indicated more stressful conditions in station Mērsrags, while MT activity revealed heavy metal pollution in station Engure. In general, heavy metal concentrations, ecotoxicity tests and biomarker responses indicate that the ecoregion Engure is not markedly various and anthropogenically affected.

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