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See detailPost-embryonic development of sheepshead minnow Cyprinodon variegatus: a staging tool based on externally visible anatomical traits
Schnitzler, Joseph ULg; Dussenne, Mélanie ULg; Frederich, Bruno ULg et al

in Ichthyological Research (in press)

The sheepshead minnow Cyprinodon variegatus has become a favoured model for laboratory studies because of their small size, rapid development, and tolerance of laboratory conditions. Here, we analyse ... [more ▼]

The sheepshead minnow Cyprinodon variegatus has become a favoured model for laboratory studies because of their small size, rapid development, and tolerance of laboratory conditions. Here, we analyse sheepshead minnow post-embryonic development with the goal of providing a generally useful method for staging fish after embryogenesis. Groups of three females and two males were placed in breeding chambers designed for this experiment. More than 100 eggs were collected and maintained in seawater. Embryos were selected under a dissection microscope and placed in incubation dishes (50 per dish) at 26 °C. On day six, embryos hatched and larvae were transferred to 1 L beakers. To define a simplified normalization table for sheepshead minnow development, we measured each fish for its standard length and examined the fish for four externally evident traits: pigmentation pattern, caudal fin morphology, anal fin morphology, and dorsal fin morphology. The four traits were chosen, because they are easily visualized with standard laboratory equipment such as the stereomicroscope and camera. We have provided criteria for staging sheepshead minnows in studies of post-embryonic development. Our data suggest that dorsal and anal fin morphology may serve as a useful phenotype for defining metamorphic climax stages throughout post-embryonic development in C. variegatus. The staging systems we propose should facilitate detailed anatomical and developmental analyses in relation to ecotoxicological studies on potential disruption of the thyroid axis by xenobiotics and endocrine-disrupting compounds. [less ▲]

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See detailEVALUATION OF FISH EXPOSURE TO POP-LIKE (ORGANOTIN) COMPOUNDS IN SEPETIBA BAY (RIO DE JANEIRO STATE, BRAZIL) THROUGH HEPATIC TOTAL TIN CONCENTRATIONS
Paiva, TC; Schilithz, PF; Bisi, TL et al

in Organohalogen Compounds (2016, August)

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See detailMicroplastics contamination in three planktivorous and commercial fish species
Collard, France ULg; Das, Krishna ULg; Gilbert, Bernard ULg et al

Poster (2016, May)

In 2014, 311 million tonnes of plastics were produced worldwide while it is estimated that 10% ended up in the oceans. Plastics adsorb many pollutants, cause entanglements in many vertebrates and provoke ... [more ▼]

In 2014, 311 million tonnes of plastics were produced worldwide while it is estimated that 10% ended up in the oceans. Plastics adsorb many pollutants, cause entanglements in many vertebrates and provoke blockage of the digestive tract of marine mammals, birds and turtles. Plastics also fragment in smaller parts, forming microplastics (<5 mm). These microplastics have the same size than planktonic organisms and can thus be ingested by filter-feeders and planktivorous organisms including fish. Although planktivorous Clupeiforme species are the most fished species in the world (17 million tonnes in 2013), the possible impact of microplastic ingestion on this group has received little attention. The aim of this study was to quantify and to characterize the ingested anthropogenic particles (AP) in herrings (Clupea harengus), sardines (Sardina pilchardus) and anchovies (Engraulis encrasicolus). Twenty individuals of each species were sampled. Herrings and sardines were caught in the Channel and in the North Sea in January 2013 and in January 2014. Anchovies were sampled in July 2013. The stomach contents were digested by sodium hypochlorite to isolate AP and then they were analysed by Raman spectroscopy and measured. AP were constituted of microplastics (MP) and cellulose fibres, sometimes associated with dyes. We found several plastic families: polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene, polyacrylonitrile, polyethylene terephthalate, polyamide and poly(butyl methacrylate). MP occurred in 35%, 50% and 40% of stomach contents of anchovies, sardines and herrings, respectively. Anchovies ingested bigger AP (2 mm) than the two other species. MP was in majority PE followed by PP. Our study shows that highly commercial species are exposed to MP. Further research is needed as MP are transport medium for organic pollutants and their fate once in the organism is unknown. [less ▲]

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See detailContrasted accumulation patterns of persistent organic pollutants and mercury in sympatric tropical dolphins from the south-western Indian Ocean
Dirtu, Alin; Malavannan, Govindan; Das, Krishna ULg et al

in Environmental Research (2016), 146

Due to their high trophic position and long life span, small cetaceans are considered as suitable bioindicators to monitor the presence of contaminants in marine ecosystems. Here, we document the ... [more ▼]

Due to their high trophic position and long life span, small cetaceans are considered as suitable bioindicators to monitor the presence of contaminants in marine ecosystems. Here, we document the contamination with persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and total mercury (T-Hg) of spinner (Stenella longirostris, n=21) and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus, n=32) sampled from the coastal waters of La Réunion (south-western Indian Ocean). In addition, seven co-occurring teleost fish species were sampled and analyzed as well. Blubber samples from living dolphins and muscle from teleosts were analyzed for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), DDT and metabolites (DDTs), chlordanes (CHLs), hexachlorocyclohexanes (HCHs), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Methoxylated PBDEs (MeO-PBDEs), reported as having a natural origin, were also analyzed. T-Hg levels were measured in blubber and skin biopsies of the two living dolphin species. δ13C and δ15N values were determined in skin of the dolphins and in the muscle of teleosts. For PCBs, HCHs and T-Hg, concentrations were significantly higher in T. aduncus than in S. longirostris. For other POP levels, intra-species variability was high. MeO-PBDEs were the dominant compounds (55% of the total POPs) in S. longirostris, while PCBs dominated (50% contribution) in T. aduncus. Other contaminants showed similar profiles between the two species. Given the different patterns of POPs and T-Hg contamination and the stable isotope composition observed among analyzed teleosts, dietary and foraging habitat preferences possibly explain the contrasted contaminant profiles observed in the two dolphin species. Levels of each class of contaminants were significantly higher in males than females. Despite their spatial and temporal overlap in the waters of La Réunion, S. longirostris and T. aduncus are differently exposed to contaminant accumulation. [less ▲]

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See detailDistribution of inorganic and organic contaminants in the intertidal surface sediments along the Hugli River Estuary, eastern part of India
Das, Krishna ULg; Sarkar, Santosh; Thomé, Jean-Pierre ULg et al

Conference (2016, February 17)

Hooghly estuary and coastal environment in north east coast of India has been strongly affected by the rapid human settlements, intensive boating and tourist activities, deforestation and ongoing ... [more ▼]

Hooghly estuary and coastal environment in north east coast of India has been strongly affected by the rapid human settlements, intensive boating and tourist activities, deforestation and ongoing agricultural and aquacultural practices. The present work investigated trace elements (TEs, T-Hg, Al, V, Cr, Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn, Co, Ni, Ca, Sr, Li, Be, P, Mo, Ag, Cd, Sn, Sb, Ba, Pb, Bi, U, As, Se) and organohalogen compounds in surface sediment (top 0-10cm) considering 8 sampling sites along the Hugli River Estuary (HRE), India. The studied organic compounds include polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs), hexachlorocyclohexane isomers (HCHs), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and metabolites (DDTs) and polybromodiphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Textural analyses of the sediment reveal an overall dominance of mud. All trace elements could be detected at variable concentrations in the following descending order: Al>Fe>Ca> P>Mn> Cu> Zn> Ba >V >Cr>Sr>Ni> Li >Co >Pb>As >Se >U >Be >Sn>Bi >Ag >Mo >Cd >Sb. A synchronous enrichment of majority of the elements were observed at the site Gangasagar (~100 km south megacity Calcutta), situated at the confluence of Hugli River and Bay of Bengal, which might be attributed to cumulative impact of the physicochemical processes and multiple anthropogenic sources. It is revealed that PCBs and DDTs were the dominant compounds among the organic pollutants accounting concentrations up to 23.5 ng.g-1 and 4.4 ng.g-1 respectively at the site Babughat, adjacent to the megacity Calcutta. The results have implications for pollution in complex estuarine environment in a meso-macrotidal setup where there is significant influx of sediments carrying huge load of inorganic and organic pollutants mainly due to rapid urbanization and industrialization. [less ▲]

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See detailMercury and persistent organic pollutant concentrations in free-ranging bottlenose dolphins from Lower Keys and Coastal Everglades (South Florida)
Damseaux, France ULg; Kiszka, Jeremy; Heithaus, Michael et al

Poster (2016, February 12)

The bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is a major apex predator and the most common cetacean species found in nearshore waters of South Florida, including the Lower Florida Keys (LFK) and the Florida ... [more ▼]

The bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is a major apex predator and the most common cetacean species found in nearshore waters of South Florida, including the Lower Florida Keys (LFK) and the Florida Coastal Everglades (FCE). The objective of this study was 1) to assess contamination levels of total mercury (T-Hg) in skin and persistent organic pollutants (PCBs, PBDEs, DDT, HCH, HCB, DLCs and PCDD/Fs) in blubber samples of bottlenose dolphins from the LFK (8 males and 16 females) and from the FCE (13 males and 9 females). Pollutants were analysed by the mean of Direct Mercury analyser (for T-Hg), GC-ECD (POPs) and GC-MS (DLCs and PCDD/Fs). The PCBs were the main compounds found in bottlenose dolphins from the LFK and FCE. The most present congeners where the CB no. 28, 52, 101, 138, 153 and 180 (ΣPCBs LFK males: 13420.5 ng.g-1 lipids, ΣPCBs LFK females: 9683.4 ng.g-1 lipids, ΣPCBs FCE males: 5637.9 ng.g-1 lipids, ΣPCBs FCE females: 1426.9 ng.g-1 lipids). PCBs concentrations were significantly higher in individuals from the LFK than those from the FCE but significantly lower than those from other locations in the south-eastern US. Unlike organic pollutants, T-Hg concentrations were significantly higher in FCE male dolphins (LFK: 2936.0 ng.g-1 dw, FCE: 10048.3 ng.g-1 dw). These high concentrations were the highest recorded in the south-eastern US and are most likely due to the presence of mangrove ecosystems. This study highlights the complexity of contaminant dynamics (inorganic vs. organic), even at small spatial scales. [less ▲]

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See detailTransfer of contaminants in the food chain up to marine mammals
Das, Krishna ULg

Conference (2016, February)

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See detailEffects of Methylmercury on Harbour Seal Peripheral Blood Leucocytes In Vitro Studied by Electron Microscopy
Dupont, Aurélie; De Pauw-Gillet, Marie-Claire ULg; Schnitzler, Joseph ULg et al

in Archives of Environmental Contamination & Toxicology (2016), 70(1), 133-142

Methylmercury MeHg is highly immunotoxic and can alter the health status of the harbour seal, Phoca vitulina, from the North Sea. To investigate the mechanism of MeHg-induced toxicity in harbour seal ... [more ▼]

Methylmercury MeHg is highly immunotoxic and can alter the health status of the harbour seal, Phoca vitulina, from the North Sea. To investigate the mechanism of MeHg-induced toxicity in harbour seal lymphocytes, ConA-stimulated peripheral blood leucocytes were exposed in vitro to sub-lethal concentrations of MeHgCl (0.2, 1 and 2 µM) for 72h, and then analysed for their viability and ultrastructure. After 72h of incubation, cells were counted with a propidium iodide staining technique, a metabolic MTS assay was performed, and cells exposed to 1 µM MeHgCl were observed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Alive cell numbers decreased with increased MeHgCl concentrations. In presence of ConA and 1µM of MeHgCl, TEM images revealed a higher frequency of apoptotic cells. Exposed cells displayed condensation of the chromatin at the nuclear membrane and mitochondrial damages. The results suggest that in vitro MeHgCl induced apoptosis in harbour seal lymphocytes through a mitochondrial pathway. [less ▲]

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See detailXenobiotic and Immune-Relevant Molecular Biomarkers in Harbor Seals as Proxies for Pollutant Burden and Effects?
Lehnert, Kristina; Ronnenberg, Katrin; Weijs, Liesbeth et al

in Archives of Environmental Contamination & Toxicology (2016), 70(1), 106-120

Harbor seals are exposed to increasing pressure caused by anthropogenic activities in their marine environment. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and trace elements are hazardous contaminants which ... [more ▼]

Harbor seals are exposed to increasing pressure caused by anthropogenic activities in their marine environment. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and trace elements are hazardous contaminants which accumulate in tissues of harbor seals. POPs and trace elements can negatively affect the immune-system and have been reported e.g. to increase susceptibility to viral infections in seals. Biomarkers of the xenobiotic metabolism, cytokines and heat-shock-protein as cell mediators of the immune-system were established to evaluate the impact of environmental stressors on harbor seals. Harbor seals (n=54) were captured on sandbanks in the North Sea during 2009 to 2012. Medicals including hematology were performed, RNAlater blood samples were taken and analyzed using quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction. Normalized transcript copy numbers were correlated to hematology and POP concentration in blood, and trace metals in blood and fur. [less ▲]

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See detailSeasonal Variation of Harbor Seal's Diet from the Wadden Sea in Relation to Prey Availability
de la Vega, Camille; Lebreton, Benoit; Siebert, Ursula et al

in PLoS ONE (2016)

The Wadden Sea has an important role for marine mammals in terms of resting, nursing and foraging. Harbor seal is the most abundant marine mammal species in this area. The use of the food resources of the ... [more ▼]

The Wadden Sea has an important role for marine mammals in terms of resting, nursing and foraging. Harbor seal is the most abundant marine mammal species in this area. The use of the food resources of the Wadden Sea by seals is not clear, and previous studies showed that this species can travel kilometers away from their haul-outs to forage in the North Sea. In this study, we analyzed the stable isotopes of vibrissae from 23 dead harbor seals found on the island of Sylt to investigate their diet. The predator´s carbon and nitrogen isotope compositions were compared to the compositions of different potential prey items from the Sylt-Rømø Bight and from the North Sea in order to study seasonal pattern in the diet and in the foraging location. In parallel, seasonal variation of abundance and biomass of the potential prey items from the Sylt-Rømø Bight were studied and compare to their contribution to the seal´s diet. The results revealed a change in the seal´s diet from pelagic sources in spring to a benthic based diet in summer, and an increasing use of the North Sea resources in fall and winter in accordance with the seasonal variation of the availability of prey in the Sylt-Rømø Bight. [less ▲]

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See detailGuiana Dolphins (Sotalia guianensis) and DR-CALUX for Screening Coastal Brazilian Environments for Dioxins and Related Compounds
Dorneles, Paulo; Lailson-Brito, Jose; Bisi, Tatiana et al

in Archives of Environmental Contamination & Toxicology (2016)

Guiana dolphin is the top predator of highest toxicological concern in Brazil and many studies on levels of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxicant (PBT) pollutants have been performed on the species ... [more ▼]

Guiana dolphin is the top predator of highest toxicological concern in Brazil and many studies on levels of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxicant (PBT) pollutants have been performed on the species. However, due to high costs of the analyses, only one investigation comprised the determination of dioxins and related compounds (DRCs) in Guiana dolphin tissues. The dioxin responsive-chemically activated luciferase gene expression (DR-CALUX ) cell bioassay was used in the present study for the analyses of hepatic samples from 28 male Guiana dolphins in order to screen estuarine environments for DRCs, comprising three regions (Northeastern, Southeastern, and Southern) and four states [Parana´ (PR), Rio de Janeiro (RJ), Espı´rito Santo (ES), and Ceara´ (CE)] of Brazil. High bioanalytical equivalent (BEQ) concentrations [dioxins (pg BEQ/g lipid)] were found, varying from 1.94 to 15.6 pg BEQ/g. A significant negative correlation between BEQ concentrations and total length was found in Guiana dolphins from Brazil (all analysed dolphins). This pattern also was verified for RJ state, pointing to (1) chemically induced developmental disruption or to (2) increasing efficiency of the detoxifying activity with the growth of the animal. Comparison was performed with literature data and significantly higher BEQ levels were found in Brazilian Guiana dolphins than in those reported for North Sea harbour porpoises. Higher levels were found in Southeastern (the most PBT-contaminated area of the country) than in Southern region. However, it is not possible to affirm that Guiana dolphins are more contaminated by DRCs in SE than in S region, because individuals were lengthier in S than in SE region. Our results seem to have mirrored dolphin exposure to PCBs in Brazil according to the literature. Further studies are required for investigating the hypotheses 1 and 2 mentioned above. [less ▲]

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See detailThe role of metallothioneins, selenium and transfer to offspring in mercury detoxification in Franciscana dolphins (Pontoporia blainvillei)
Romero, M.B.; Pollizi, P.; Chiodi, L. et al

in Marine Pollution Bulletin (2016)

The concentrations of mercury (Hg), selenium (Se) and metallothioneins (MT) were evaluated in fetuses, calves, juveniles and adults of the endangered coastal Franciscana dolphin (Pontoporia blainvillei ... [more ▼]

The concentrations of mercury (Hg), selenium (Se) and metallothioneins (MT) were evaluated in fetuses, calves, juveniles and adults of the endangered coastal Franciscana dolphin (Pontoporia blainvillei) from Argentina. Mercury concentrations varied among analyzed tissues (liver, kidney, muscle and brain), with liver showing the higher concentrations in all specimens. An age-dependent accumulation was found in liver, kidney and brain. No significant relationship between Hg and MT concentrations was found for all tissues analyzed. Hepatic Hg molar concentrations were positively correlated with those of Se, indicating a great affinity between these two elements. Furthermore, dark granules of HgSe were observed in Kupffer cells in the liver by electron microscopy, suggesting the role of this macrophage in the detoxification of Hg. A transfer of Hg through placenta was proved. The presence of Hg in brain in all age classes did not show concentrations associated with neurotoxicity. [less ▲]

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See detailAbsence of selenium protection against methylmercury toxicity in harbour seal leucocytes in vitro
Das, Krishna ULg; Dupont, Aurélie; De Pauw-Gillet, Marie-Claire ULg et al

in Marine Pollution Bulletin (2016), 108

Previous studies described high concentrations of mercury (Hg) and selenium (Se) in the blood of harbour seals, Phoca vitulina from the North Sea. In the present study, we evaluated the in vitro potential ... [more ▼]

Previous studies described high concentrations of mercury (Hg) and selenium (Se) in the blood of harbour seals, Phoca vitulina from the North Sea. In the present study, we evaluated the in vitro potential protective effects of sodium selenite (Na2SeO3) and selenomethionine (SeMet) on cell proliferation of harbour seal lymphocytes exposed to MeHgCl 0.75 µM. In vitro exposure of ConA-stimulated T lymphocytes resulted in severe inhibition of DNA synthesis, likely linked to severe loss of mitochondrial membrane potential at 0.75 µM. Neither selenite nor SeMet showed a protective effect against MeHg toxicity expressed at the T lymphocyte proliferation level for harbour seals. Selenite and SeMet did not show negative effects regarding lymphocyte proliferation and mitochondrial membrane potential. To conclude, our results clearly demonstrated that MeHg affected in vitro immune cells exposure with no protective effects of selenium at a molar ratio Hg:Se of 1:10 in harbour seals from the North Sea. [less ▲]

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See detailThe thyroid gland and thyroid hormones in sheepshead minnow (Cyprinodon variegatus) during early development and metamorphosis
Schnitzler, Joseph ULg; Klaren, Peter; Mariavelle, Emeline ULg et al

in Fish Physiology and Biochemistry (2016), 42(2), 607-616

The sheepshead minnow is widely used in ecotoxicological studies that only recently have begun to focus on disruption of the thyroid axis by xenobiotics and endocrine disrupting compounds. However ... [more ▼]

The sheepshead minnow is widely used in ecotoxicological studies that only recently have begun to focus on disruption of the thyroid axis by xenobiotics and endocrine disrupting compounds. However, reference levels of the thyroid prohormone thyroxine (T4) and biologically active hormone 3,5,30-triiodothyronine (T3) and their developmental patterns are unknown. This study set out to describe the ontogeny and morphology of the thyroid gland in sheepshead minnow, and to correlate these with whole-body concentrations of thyroid hormones during early development and metamorphosis. Eggs were collected by natural spawning in our laboratory. T4 and T3 were extracted from embryos, larvae and juveniles and an enzyme-linked immunoassay was used to measure whole-body hormone levels. Length and body mass, hatching success, gross morphology, thyroid hormone levels and histology were measured. The onset of metamorphosis at 12-day post-hatching coincided with surges in whole-body T4 and T3 concentrations. Thyroid follicles were first observed in pre-metamorphic larvae at hatching and were detected exclusively in the subpharyngeal region, surrounding the ventral aorta. Follicle size and thyrocyte epithelial cell heights varied during development, indicating fluctuations in thyroid hormone synthesis activity. The increase in the whole-body T3/T4 ratio was indicative of an increase in outer ring deiodination activity. This study establishes a baseline for thyroid hormones in sheepshead minnows, which will be useful for the understanding of thyroid hormone functions and in future studies of thyroid toxicants in this species. [less ▲]

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See detailToxicokinetics of selenium in the slider turtle Trachemys scripta
Dyc, Christelle; Far, Johann ULg; Gandar, Frederic ULg et al

in Ecotoxicology (2016), 25

Selenium (Se) is an essential element that can be harmful for wildlife. However, its toxicity in poikilothermic amniotes, including turtles, remains poorly investigated. The present study aims at ... [more ▼]

Selenium (Se) is an essential element that can be harmful for wildlife. However, its toxicity in poikilothermic amniotes, including turtles, remains poorly investigated. The present study aims at identifying selenium toxicokinetics and toxicity in juvenile slider turtles (age: 7 months), Trachemys scripta, dietary exposed to selenium, as selenomethionine SeMet, for eight weeks. Non-destructive tissues (i.e. carapace, scutes, skin and blood) were further tested for their suitability to predict selenium levels in target tissues (i.e. kidney, liver and muscle) From conservation perspective. 130 juvenile yellow-bellied slider turtles were assigned in three groups of 42 individuals each (i.e. control, SeMet1 and SeMet2). These groups were subjected to a feeding trial including an eight-week supplementation period SP8 and a following four-week elimination period EP4. During the SP8, turtles fed on diet containing 1.1 ± 0.04, 22.1 ± 1.0 and 45.0 ± 2.0 µg.g-1 of selenium (control, SeMet1 and SeMet2, respectively). During the EP4, turtles fed on non-supplemented diet. At different time during the trial, six individuals per group were sacrificed and tissues collected (i.e. carapace, scutes, skin, blood, liver, kidney, muscle) for analyses. During the SP8 (Figure 1), both SeMet1 and SeMet2 turtles efficiently accumulated selenium from a SeMet dietary source. The more selenium was concentrated in the food, the more it was in the turtle body but the less it was removed from their tissues. Moreover, SeMet was found to be the more abundant selenium species in turtles’ tissues. Body condition (i.e. growth in mass and size, feeding behaviour and activity) and survival of the SeMet1 and SeMet2 turtles seemed to be unaffected by the selenium exposure. There were clear evidences that reptilian species are differently affected by and sensitive to selenium exposure but the lack of any adverse effects was quite unexpected. [less ▲]

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See detailSpatial variations in the concentrations of mercury and persistent organic pollutants in free-ranging bottlenose dolphins from South Florida
Das, Krishna ULg; Damseaux, France ULg; Heithaus, M.R. et al

Poster (2015, December)

The bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is an abundant top predator found in nearshore waters of South Florida including heavily developed and remote coastal waters. The objective of this study was to ... [more ▼]

The bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is an abundant top predator found in nearshore waters of South Florida including heavily developed and remote coastal waters. The objective of this study was to quantify total mercury (T-Hg) and persistent organic pollutant (POPs: NDL-PCBs, PBDEs, DDT, HCH, HCB, PCDD/Fs and DL-PCBs) levels in bottlenose dolphins found off the highly populated island of Key West (n = 27) and from the undeveloped Florida Coastal Everglades (FCE; n = 20). T-Hg and POPs were analyzed in skin and blubber tissues, respectively, using a Direct Mercury analyzer (for T-Hg), GC-ECD (POPs) and GC-HRMS (DLCs). The 7 ICES PCBs were the main compounds found in bottlenose dolphins from Key West (8229 ng.g-1 lipids) and the FCE (2289 ng.g-1 lipids), while the concentrations of PCDD/Fs remained low (Key West: 104 pg.g-1 lipids, FCE: 102 pg.g-1 lipids). POP concentrations were higher in individuals from Key West compared to those from the FCE. However, POP concentrations in Key West dolphins were lower than those from other locations in Florida and around the world. Unlike organic pollutants, T-Hg concentrations were significantly higher in FCE dolphins (Key West: 2941 ng.g-1 dw versus, FCE: 9314 ng.g-1 dw), with the highest concentrations reported from the southeastern US. PCB concentrations remained under previously suggested threshold for adverse health effects (including immunosuppression) in marine mammals of 17 000 ng/kg lipid. To conclude, sources of T-Hg and POPs differed between Key West and the FCE as reflected by their concentrations in skin and blubber of free-ranging bottlenose dolphins highlighting their role as sentinels of their environment. [less ▲]

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See detail) The spatial variability of trace element bioaccumulation processes: Tools to environmental management
Richir, Jonathan ULg; Lejeune, Lejeune; Lepoint, Gilles ULg et al

Conference (2015, November 07)

As transitional environments, coastal meadows are particularly vulnerable to pollution. Trace elements remain contaminants of concern because of their persistence, their ability to accumulate in biota and ... [more ▼]

As transitional environments, coastal meadows are particularly vulnerable to pollution. Trace elements remain contaminants of concern because of their persistence, their ability to accumulate in biota and their toxicity. Local, regional, national and cross-border programs are thus initiated to monitor their environmental occurrence. Sentinel organisms, or bioindicators, have been widely used to this end since they accumulate the bioavailable and thus potentially toxic fraction of contaminants. In the framework of the STARECAPMED project, the accumulation of trace elements in the seagrass Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile was studied at different spatial scales: along a radial (100 m scale), in a bay (1 km scale), along the French Mediterranean littoral (10-100 km scale) and along the whole Mediterranean coastline (100-1000 km scale). Results showed that the contamination of the sampled shoots could vary as much at opposite scales. This benthic primary producer accumulates contaminants sequestered in the sediments, in addition to their dissolved fraction in the water column. The sediments also offer a time integration of coastal pollution and thus amplify the pollution signal recorded by the seagrass, resulting in the observed spatial variability. These results demonstrate that the in-depth knowledge of the ecology of the monitored bioindicator and the interactions it shares with its environment cannot be ignored. Such failure could lead to erroneous interpretations of the levels of contamination of monitored sites, and points out the need to define a sampling strategy based on the monitoring objectives and the selected bioindicator. [less ▲]

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See detailSeals as toxicological models to study the transfer of contaminants in the food chain
Das, Krishna ULg

Scientific conference (2015, November 05)

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See detailSpatial variations in concentrations of mercury and persistent organic pollutants in coastal bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, from the Lower Florida Keys and the coastal Everglades (South Florida)
Damseaux, France ULg; Kiszka, Jeremy; Heithaus, Michael et al

Conference (2015, October 09)

The bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is a major apex predator and the most common cetacean species found in nearshore waters of South Florida, including the Lower Florida Keys (LFK) and the ... [more ▼]

The bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is a major apex predator and the most common cetacean species found in nearshore waters of South Florida, including the Lower Florida Keys (LFK) and the Everglades National Park (ENP). The objective of this study was 1) to assess contamination levels of total mercury (T-Hg) in skin and persistent organic pollutants (PCBs, PBDEs, DDT, HCH, HCB, DLCs and PCDD/Fs) in blubber samples of bottlenose dolphins from the LFK (T-Hg : nmales = 10; POPs : nmales = 16, nfemales = 8) and the ENP (T-Hg : nmales = 13, nfemales = 9; POPs : nmales = 11, nfemales = 8). T-Hg and POPs were analysed by the mean of Direct Mercury analyser (for T-Hg), GC-ECD (POPs) and GC-MS (DLCs and PCDD/Fs). The PCBs were the main compounds found in bottlenose dolphins from the LFK and ENP. The most present congeners where the CB no. 28, 52, 101, 138, 153 and 180 (Σ 6 PCBs LFK males: 13420.5 ng.g-1 lipids, Σ 6 PCBs LFK females: 9683.4 ng.g-1 lipids, Σ 6 PCBs ENP males: 5637.9 ng.g-1 lipids, Σ 6 PCBs ENP females: 1426.9 ng.g-1 lipids), while the concentrations of DL PCBs remained low for both locations (LFK: 739 ng.g-1 lipids, ENP: 183 ng.g-1 lipids). PCBs concentrations were significantly higher in individuals from the LFK than those from the ENP. PCBs concentrations in LFK and ENP dolphins were significantly lower than those from other locations in the south-eastern US. Unlike organic pollutants, T-Hg concentrations were significantly higher in ENP male dolphins (LFK: 2936.0 ng.g-1 dw, ENP: 10048.3 ng.g-1 dw). These high concentrations were the highest recorded in the south-eastern US and are most likely due to the presence of mangrove ecosystems. This study highlights the complexity of contaminant dynamics (inorganic vs. organic), even at small spatial scales. [less ▲]

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See detailApplying Stable Isotopes Bayesian Ellipses (SIBER) to characterise trophic niches of large cetaceans from the north-Western Medterranean Sea
Pinzone, Marianna ULg; Michel, Loïc ULg; Ody, Denis et al

Poster (2015, October 08)

Diet composition and feeding preferences are of critical importance to understand a species' ecology; better knowledge of these matters is necessary for efficient conservation. Few is known on the trophic ... [more ▼]

Diet composition and feeding preferences are of critical importance to understand a species' ecology; better knowledge of these matters is necessary for efficient conservation. Few is known on the trophic ecology of Mediterranean cetacean populations and the elusiveness of these organisms limits acquisition of new information. Here, we analysed C and N isotopic ratios of skin biopsies of 17 fin whales Balaenoptera physalus, 15 long-finned pilot whales Globicephala melas and 25 sperm whales Physeter macrocephalus sampled through darting between summer 2010 and 2013 in the North-Western Mediterranean Sea. We subsequently used the SIBER R package to explore isotopic niche parameters as a proxy for trophic niches assessment. Fitting of standard ellipses to each species revealed that no niche overlap between the odontocetes and fin whales was present, in accordance with the lower trophic level of the latter. Moreover, overlap between the isotopic niches of the two odontocetes was limited, confirming resource partitioning between these two species. This could be linked with differences in hunting periods and depths and consequently in prey availability. Bayesian modelling of standard ellipses revealed that the isotopic niche of fin whales was larger than the two odontocetes in over 99.80% of 106 model simulations. It is the first time that such variability is observed in Mediterranean fin whales. This suggests possible exploitation of food items from different trophic levels (krill, small fishes) or from other regions, such as other areas in the Mediterranean Sea and the North-East Atlantic. Modelling also suggested that no meaningful differences were present in the width of isotopic niches of the two odontocetes. The very narrow isotopic niche of pilot whales is in strong contrast with the generalist feeding behaviour this species is believed to have according to literature analysis. Our results open new perspectives on the ecological role of Mediterranean cetaceans. [less ▲]

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