Journal Article

The Effects of Metals on Embryo-larval and Adult Life Stages of the Sea Urchin, Diadema antillarum

Since the massive population decline of the long-spined sea urchin, Diadema antillarum, in the early 1980s, the dynamics of coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean have changed tremendously. The absence of D. antillarum, once a keystone herbivore, has led to macroalgal dominance in many of these reef communities. D. antillarum is not only important ecologically, but may also be a sensitive bioindicator species for toxicant exposure. Echinoderm larval development tests were conducted with D. antillarum exposed to elevated levels of aqueous copper (Cu), silver (Ag), nickel (Ni), or selenium (Se). All metals significantly affected larval development, based on normal development to the pluteus stage. The EC50s based on dissolved metal concentrations were 11 μg/L Cu, 6 μg/L Ag, 15 μg/L Ni, and 26 μg/L Se. Adult sea urchins were exposed to aqueous copper under flow through conditions for 96 h. The 96-h LC50 for this exposure was 25 μg/L dissolved Cu. Additionally, behavioral and physiological disturbance was observed. The physiological responses included both acid–base balance disturbance, as evidenced by reduced coelomic fluid pH and apparent ionoregulatory effects. In addition, behavioral effects included spatial orientation within the exposure tank, spine closure, and loss of spines. The high sensitivity of both adult and larval D. antillarum to these metals supports the use of this organism as an important biological indicator for metal exposure in marine environments.

Publisher - Elsevier

Subjects - Echinoderm, Sea Urchin, Diadema antillarum

Citation: Bielmyer GK, Brix KV, Capo TR, Grosell M. 2005. The Effects of Metals on Embryo-larval and Adult Life Stages of the Sea Urchin, Diadema antillarum. Aquat. Toxicol.; 74(3):254-263