The recently developed modelling tool MERLIN-Expo was applied to support the exposure assessment of an aquatic food web to trace metals in a coastal environment. The exposure scenario, built on the data from Daliao River estuary in the Liaodong Bay (Bohai Sea, China), affected by long-term and large-scale industrial activities as well as rapid urbanization in Liao River watershed, represents an interesting case-study for ecological exposure modelling due to the availability of local data on metal concentrations in water and sediment. The bioaccumulation of selected trace metals in aquatic organisms was modelled and compared with field data from local aquatic organisms. Both model results and experimental data demonstrated that As, Cd, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn, out of examined metals, were accumulated most abundantly by invertebrates and less by higher trophic level species. The body parts of the sampled animals with the highest measured concentration of metals were predominantly muscles, intestine and liver and fish skin in the case of Cr. The Morris and extended Fourier Analysis (EFAST) were used to account for variability in selected parameters of the bioaccumulation model. Food assimilation efficiency and slopes and intercepts of two sub-models for calculating metal specific BCFs (BCFmetal-exposure concentration) and fish weight (Weightfish-Lengthfish) were identified as the most influential parameters on ecological exposure to selected metals.
Keywords: Ecological exposure assessment; Metal bioaccumulation; Sensitivity analysis.
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