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TA4 Integrating Sublethal Responses and Ecologically Relevant Endpoints
() Linking sublethal stress to ecological relevant endpoints: importance for assessing recovery in a disturbed stream.
Adams, S1, Ryon, M, Smith, J, Greeley, M, 1 Oak Ridge National Lab, Oak Ridge, TN, USA
ABSTRACT- Effects of environmental stressors on aquatic systems and the subsequent recovery of these systems involve a series of hierarchial responses ranging from the biomolecular/biochemical to the population and community levels. To demonstrate the importance of using both sublethal indicators of stress and ecologically relevant responses together in bioassessment studies, the recovery dynamics of a previously disturbed stream were investigated by measuring a variety of biological responses at various levels of biological organization. Relationships among fish responses at four major levels of organization (biochemical/physiological, individual, population, and community levels) were evaluated relative to patterns in contaminant loading along the spatial gradient of the stream. Both individual and integrated response analysis demonstrated that bioindicators at several levels of organization displayed similar downstream patterns in their response to contaminant loading within the stream and, therefore, may be causally linked. When investigating the effects of environmental stressors on aquatic systems and assessing recovery of these systems following initiation of restoration activities, studies should include a variety of response endpoints which represent different levels of specificity, sensitivity, time scales of response, and ecological relevance to stressors. Investigating relationships between sublethal indicators and higher levels of biological response helps in understanding the mechanistic basis between environmental stressors, stress responses of biota, and the recovery process of aquatic systems. Knowledge of such relationships is important in the effective management and restoration of aquatic ecosystems.
Key words: recovery, sublethal stress, bioindicators, causality
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