Contrasting effects of heavy metals and hydrocarbons on larval settlement and juvenile survival in sponges

Aquat Toxicol. 2007 Feb 28;81(2):137-43. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2006.11.010. Epub 2006 Nov 24.


Metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) contaminate sediments and waters of coastal areas threatening early stages of invertebrate development. Effects on these stages may largely determine the decline and even disappearance of invertebrate populations in polluted environments. Our study aimed to determine the possible influence of metals (Cu and Cd) and PAHs on larval settlement and consecutive survival of two widespread sponges of the Mediterranean: Crambe crambe and Scopalina lophyropoda. Larvae of both species were exposed to Cu and Cd for a short period during 1 week, and settlement and following (6 months) survival of juvenile were monitored. Short exposures to copper and cadmium at the concentrations used did not affect C. crambe settlement compared with SW control, and no effect on consecutive survival of juveniles was observed. In contrast, short pulses of copper and cadmium at the concentrations used enhanced Scopalina lophyropoda settlement and did not affect the consecutive survival of juveniles with respect to SW controls. Furthermore, experiments designed to assess the effects of short exposures to PAHs and the combined effect of contamination by Cu(2+) and PAHs on larval settlement, were conduced during 10 days on C. crambe larvae. Hydrocarbons, differently than copper and cadmium, inhibited the settlement of sponge larvae to a certain extent. The synergetic negative effect of copper and hydrocarbons on C. crambe settlers may cause a decline of populations in areas with both sources of contamination. The present study provides the only available data on toxicity of copper, cadmium and hydrocarbon toxicants on sponge larval settlement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cadmium / toxicity*
  • Copper / toxicity*
  • Crambe Sponge / drug effects
  • Larva / drug effects
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / toxicity*
  • Porifera / drug effects*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*


  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Cadmium
  • Copper