Using additive modelling to quantify the effect of chemicals on phytoplankton diversuity and biomass

K.P.J. Viaene, F. de Laender, P.J. van den Brink, C.R. Janssen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Environmental authorities require the protection of biodiversity and other ecosystem properties such as biomass production. However, the endpoints listed in available ecotoxicological datasets generally do not contain these two ecosystem descriptors. Inferring the effects of chemicals on such descriptors from micro- or mesocosm experiments is often hampered by inherent differences in the initial biodiversity levels between experimental units or by delayed community responses. Here we introduce additive modelling to establish the effects of a chronic application of the herbicide linuron on 10 biodiversity indices and phytoplankton biomass in microcosms. We found that communities with a low (high) initial biodiversity subsequently became more (less) diverse, indicating an equilibrium biodiversity status in the communities considered here. Linuron adversely affected richness and evenness while dominance increased but no biodiversity indices were different from the control treatment at linuron concentrations below 2.4 µg/L. Richness-related indices changed at lower linuron concentrations (effects noticeable from 2.4 µg/L) than other biodiversity indices (effects noticeable from 14.4 µg/L) and, in contrast to the other indices, showed no signs of recovery following chronic exposure. Phytoplankton biomass was unaffected by linuron due to functional redundancy within the phytoplankton community. Comparing thresholds for biodiversity with conventional toxicity test results showed that standard ecological risk assessments also protect biodiversity in the case of linuron.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-80
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • ecological risk-assessment
  • fresh-water microcosms
  • herbicide linuron
  • primary producers
  • photosystem-ii
  • pond mesocosms
  • food-web
  • biodiversity
  • sensitivity
  • communities


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