Research Summary: Spatially Explicit Analysis of Metal Transfer to Biota: Influence of Soil Contamination and Landscape


Concepts and developments for a new field in ecotoxicology, referred to as “landscape ecotoxicology,” were proposed in the 1990s; however, to date, few studies have been developed in this emergent field. In fact, there is a strong interest in developing this area, both for renewing the concepts and tools used in ecotoxicology as well as for responding to practical issues, such as risk assessment. The aim of this study was to investigate the spatial heterogeneity of metal bioaccumulation in animals in order to identify the role of spatially explicit factors, such as landscape as well as total and extractable metal concentrations in soils. Over a smelter-impacted area, we studied the accumulation of trace metals (TMs: Cd, Pb and Zn) in invertebrates (the grove snail Cepaea sp and the glass snail Oxychilus draparnaudi) and vertebrates (the bank vole Myodes glareolus and the greater white-toothed shrew Crocidura russula). Total and CaCl2-extractable concentrations of TMs were measured in soils from woody patches where the animals were captured. TM concentrations in animals exhibited a high spatial heterogeneity. They increased with soil pollution and were better explained by total rather than CaCl2-extractable TM concentrations, except in Cepaea sp. TM levels in animals and their variations along the pollution gradient were modulated by the landscape, and this influence was species and metal specific. Median soil metal concentrations (predicted by universal kriging) were calculated in buffers of increasing size and were related to bioaccumulation. The spatial scale at which TM concentrations in animals and soils showed the strongest correlations varied between metals, species and landscapes. The potential underlying mechanisms of landscape influence (community functioning, behaviour, etc.) are discussed. Present results highlight the need for the further development of landscape ecotoxicology and multi-scale approaches, which would enhance our understanding of pollutant transfer and effects in ecosystems.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 31-May-2011

Author(s): Fritsch C., Cœurdassier M., Giraudoux P., Raoul F., Douay F., Rieffel D., de Vaufleury A., Scheifler R.


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