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The Response of Benthic Foraminiferal Assemblages to Copper Exposure: A Pilot Mesocosm Investigation

DOI: 10.4236/jep.2012.34044, PP. 342-352

Keywords: Mesocosm, Benthic Foraminifera, Copper, Pollution

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Abstract:

Controlled experiments, including mesocosms and laboratory cultures, are used to identify a potential speci?c cause- effect relationship that has been previously inferred in field studies. In this study, a series of mesocosm experiments are carried out to assess the impact of different concentrations of copper on benthic foraminiferal assemblages over time. This pilot investigation documents that Cu contamination has a detrimental effect on foraminifera when compared to original and control samples. In particular, increased concentrations of Cu (normally higher than 120 μg/l) lead to a lowering of foraminiferal density and diversity and an increased occurrence of abnormalities. This study thus supports that the use of an experimental approach is suitable for investigating the response of benthic foraminifera to stress including pollution. Moreover, the application of mesocosms represents an innovative tool to be placed alongside field studies and culture experiments.

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