A long-term copper exposure in a freshwater ecosystem using lotic mesocosms: Invertebrate community responses

Sandrine Joachim*, Hélène Roussel, Jean Marc Bonzom, Eric Thybaud, Christopher A. Mebane, Paul Van den Brink, Laury Gauthier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


A lotic mesocosm study was carried out in 20-m-long channels, under continuous, environmentally realistic concentrations of copper (Cu) in low, medium, and high exposures (nominally 0, 5, 25, and 75μgL-1; average effective concentrations <0.5, 4, 20, and 57μgL-1 respectively) for 18mo. Total abundance, taxa richness, and community structure of zooplankton, macroinvertebrates, and emerging insects were severely affected at Cu treatment levels of 25 and 75μgL-1. Some taxa were sensitive to Cu, including gastropods such as Lymnaea spp. and Physa sp., crustaceans such as Chydorus sphaericus, Gammarus pulex, and Asellus aquaticus, rotifers such as Mytilina sp. and Trichocerca sp., leeches such as Erpobdella sp., and the emergence of dipteran insects such as Chironomini. Other taxa appeared to be tolerant or favored by indirect effects, as in Chironimidae larvae, the emergence of Orthocladiinae, and the zooplankter Vorticella sp., which increased in the 25 and 75μgL-1 treatments. After approximately 8mo of Cu exposure, the macroinvertebrate community in the high treatment was decimated to the point that few organisms could be detected, with moderate effects in the medium treatment, and very slight effects in the low-Cu treatment. Subsequently, most taxa in the high-Cu exposure began a gradual and partial recovery. By the end of the study at 18 mo, macroinvertebrate taxa richness was similar to control richness, although overall abundances remained lower than controls. After 18mo of copper exposure, a no-observed-effect concentration at the community level for consumers was set at 5μgL-1 (4μgL-1 as average effective concentration), and a lowest-observed-effect concentration at 25μgL-1(20μgL-1 as average effective concentration).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2698-2714
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Copper
  • Emerging insects
  • Macroinvertebrates
  • Mesocosms
  • Recovery
  • Tolerance
  • Zooplankton


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