Modelling and monitoring organochlorine and heavy metal accumulation in soils, earthworms, and shrews in Rhine-Delta floodplains

J. Hendriks, W. Ma, J.J. Brouns, E.M. de Ruiter-Dijkman, R. Gast

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    82 Citations (Scopus)


    In the Rhine-delta, accumulation of microcontaminants in floodplain foodwebs has received little attention in comparison with aquatic communities. To investigate organochlorine and metal concentrations in a terrestrial foodchain, samples of soil, earthworms (Lumbricus rubellus), and shrew (Crocidura russula, Sorex araneus) livers and kidneys were taken from two moderately to heavily polluted floodplains. Chlorobiphenyl residues in earthworm fat were 0.10 to 3.5 times the concentrations in soil organic matter, whereas ratios for other organochlorines varied between 0.87 and 8.8. These ratios are one order of magnitude lower than expected from laboratory experiments with earthworms, and laboratory and field studies on aquatic invertebrates. Bioconcentration ratios for heavy metals are in accordance with literature values for other locations, confirming the high potential for cadmium accumulation in Lumbricidae. Concentrations of organochlorines in shrew liver lipids were 1.0 to 13 times the residues in earthworm fat. These values are higher than lipid-corrected biomagnification ratios for laboratory rodents, but equal to those measured for benthivorous birds in the Rhine- delta. On a dry weight basis, kidney-earthworm ratios for cadmium were about one order of magnitude lower than previously reported values for insectivores. Soil concentrations of many compounds in both floodplains did not meet Dutch quality standards. Yet, hexachlorobenzene, chlorobiphenyl 153 (PCB153), γ-hexachlorocyclohexane, ΣDDT, and dieldrin residues in earthworms and shrews did not exceed diet levels expected to be safe for endothermic species. An exception was noted for cadmium in worms and shrew kidneys. Heavy metal pollution in soil was close to levels that are critical to earthworms in laboratory studies. Cadmium concentrations in shrew kidneys were below levels suggested to be safe for Sorex araneus, but above those that were critical to the rat.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)115-127
    JournalArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1995


    • polders
    • wetlands
    • bioaccumulation
    • ecotoxicology
    • river rhine


    Dive into the research topics of 'Modelling and monitoring organochlorine and heavy metal accumulation in soils, earthworms, and shrews in Rhine-Delta floodplains'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this