Development of acute and chronic toxicity bioassays using the pelagic copepod Gladioferens pectinatus

Well validated and reliable biological assays using local and native species are required to characterise the impacts of pollution on ecosystem health. We identified a native estuarine pelagic copepod species suitable for assessing the ecotoxicological impact of anthropogenic contaminants. Gladioferens pectinatus fulfilled the necessary-selection criteria of: wide distribution and abundance across New Zealand estuaries, ease of maintenance in the laboratory, short life cycle, sensitivity to toxicants with different modes of action, and providing reproducibility of biological response to toxicants. Measured endpoints were survival and larval development rate for the nauplii, and survival, realized offspring and total potential offspring for adults. LC50 values for the survival of G. pectinatus exposed to copper, phenanthrene and chlorpyrifos were 170 (143-193), 181.3 (131.3-231.3) and 4.3 (3.8-4.9) µg/L, respectively. The most sensitive chronic endpoint identified for G. pectinatus was the larval development rate, with EC50 values of 49.8 (45-55.3), 31.3 (24.8-44.7) and 1.97 (1.6-2.31) µg/L for copper, phenanthrene and chlorpyrifos, respectively. The acute and chronic responses obtained for G. pectinatus against the three reference toxicants are comparable with those reported for other copepod species and confirm its sensitivity and suitability to assess the toxicity of New Zealand estuarine samples.