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Trace elements in shells of common gastropods in the near vicinity of a natural CO2 vent: no evidence of pH-dependent contamination

April 16, 2014

There is concern that the use of natural volcanic CO2 vents as analogs for studies of the impacts of ocean acidification on marine organisms are biased due to physiochemical influences other than seawater pH alone. One issue that has been raised is whether potentially harmful trace elements in sediments that are rendered more soluble and labile in low pH environments are made more bioavailable, and sequestered in the local flora and fauna at harmful levels.

In order to evaluate this hypothesis, we analyzed the concentrations of trace elements in shells (an established proxy for tissues) of four species of gastropods (two limpets, a topshell and a whelk) collected from three sites in Levante Bay, Vulcano Island. Each sampling site increased in distance from the primary CO2vent and thus represented low, moderate, and ambient seawater pH conditions. Concentrations of As, Cd, Co, Cr, Hg, Mo, Ni, Pb, and V measured in shells using ICP-OES were below detection thresholds for all four gastropod species at all three sites. However, there were measurable concentrations of Sr, Mn, and U in the shells of the limpets Patella caeruleaP. rustica, and the snail Osilinus turbinatus, and similarly, Sr, Mn, U, and also Zn in the shells of the whelk Hexaplex trunculus. Levels of these elements were within the ranges measured in gastropod shells in non-polluted environments, and with the exception of U in the shells of P. caerulea, where the concentration was significantly lower at the collecting site closest to the vent (low pH site), there were no site-specific spatial differences in concentrations for any of the trace elements in shells. Thus trace element enhancement in sediments in low-pH environments was not reflected in greater bioaccumulations of potentially harmful elements in the shells of common gastropods.

McClintock JB, Amsler CD, Amsler MO, Duquette A, Angus RA, Hall-Spencer JM, Milazzo M, 2014: Trace elements in shells of common gastropods in the near vicinity of a natural CO2 vent: no evidence of pH-dependent contamination, Biogeosciences Discuss., 11, 5215-5237, doi:10.5194/bgd-11-5215-2014. Article.

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