Relative sensitivities of toxicity test protocols with the amphipods Eohaustorius estuarius and Ampelisca abdita

Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2008 Jan;69(1):24-31. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2007.05.005. Epub 2007 Jun 18.


A series of dose-response experiments was conducted to compare the relative sensitivities of toxicity test protocols using the amphipods Ampelisca abdita and Eohaustorius estuarius. A. abdita is one of the dominant infaunal species in the San Francisco Estuary, and E. estuarius is the primary sediment toxicity species used in the San Francisco Estuary Regional Monitoring Program. Experiments were conducted with a formulated sediment spiked with copper, fluoranthene, chlorpyrifos, and the three pyrethroid pesticides permethrin, bifenthrin, and cypermethrin, all chemicals of concern in this Estuary. The results showed that the protocol with A. abdita was more sensitive to fluoranthene and much more sensitive to copper, while E. estuarius was more sensitive to chlorpyrifos, and much more sensitive to the pyrethroid pesticides. These results, considered in conjunction with those from previous spiking studies [Weston, D.P., 1995. Further development of a chronic Ampelisca abdita bioassay as an indicator of sediment toxicity: summary and conclusions. In: Regional Monitoring Program for Trace Substances Annual Report. San Francisco Estuary Institute, Oakland, CA, pp 108-115; DeWitt, T.E., Swartz, R.C., Lamberson, J.O., 1989. Measuring the acute toxicity of estuarine sediments. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 8: 1035-1048; DeWitt, T.H.E., Pinza, M.R., Niewolny, L.A., Cullinan, V.I., Gruendell, B.D., 1997. Development and evaluation of a standard marine/estuarine chronic sediment toxicity method using Leptocheirus plumulosus. Draft report prepared for the US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Science and Technology, Washington DC, under contract DE-AC06-76RLO 1830 by Batelle Marine Science Laboratory, Battelle Memorial Institute, Pacific Northwest Division, Richland, WA], suggest that, in general, A. abdita is more sensitive to metals, E. estuarius is more sensitive to pesticides, and both protocols have roughly comparable sensitivities to hydrocarbons. The preponderance of evidence from previous field studies indicate that E. estuarius is considerably more responsive to ambient sediment samples [Bay, S.M., Gries, T.H., Anderson, B.S., Phillips, B.M., Field, J.L., Moore, D.W., Greenstein, D.J., 2005. Comparison of marine amphipod test species responsiveness to contaminated sediments. In: Conference Proceeding: Annual Meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. SETAC, Baltimore, Maryland; Anderson, B.S., Hunt, B.M., Thompson, B., Lowe, S., Taberski, K., Carr, R.S., in press. Patterns and trends in sediment toxicity in the San Francisco estuary. Environ. Res.]. One reason for this may be that tube building behavior of A. abdita isolates this species from contaminants in pore water, and results from the current experiments partially support this hypothesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amphipoda / drug effects*
  • Animals
  • Chlorpyrifos / toxicity
  • Copper / toxicity
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / toxicity
  • Fluorenes / toxicity
  • Geologic Sediments / chemistry
  • Insecticides / toxicity
  • Permethrin / toxicity
  • Pyrethrins / toxicity
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Toxicity Tests / methods*
  • Water / chemistry*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Fluorenes
  • Insecticides
  • Pyrethrins
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Water
  • cypermethrin
  • fluoranthene
  • Permethrin
  • bifenthrin
  • Copper
  • Chlorpyrifos