• Assessment of biomarkers in Mytilus edulis to determine Good Environmental Status for implementation of MSFD in Ireland

      Giltrap, M.; Ronan, J.; Hardenberg, S.; Parkes, G.; McHugh, B.; McGovern, E.; Wilson, J.G. (Elsevier, 2013)
      Candidate OSPAR/ICES recommended biomarkers at the level of the individual in Mytilus edulis for determination of good environmental status for MSFD were evaluated against contaminant levels at sites around Ireland. The sites chosen ranged from moderate to low pollution levels, but the actual ranking of the sites varied according to the contaminant levels present. At the most contaminated site, Cork, 4 out of 16 contaminants exceeded the EAC, while at Shannon, no EACs were exceeded. The SOS assay suggested that Cork was the healthiest site with a LT50 of 17.6 days, while SOS for Shannon was 15.6 days. Likewise, condition factors varied among sites and did not always correspond to contaminant-based status. There may be uncertainty in assigning status around the not good:good boundary. This raises potential difficulties not only in the biomarker/contaminant load relationship but also in the reliability of the biomarkers themselves and hence barriers meeting compliance levels.
    • Biomarkers: are realism and control mutually exclusive in integrated pollution assessment?

      Wilson, J.G.; McHugh, B.; Giltrap, M. (Elsevier, 2014)
      The conventional view of pollution monitoring is that any choice is a trade-off between realism and precision, as the control over confounding variables decreases with the increasing degree of organization of the test system. Dublin Bay is subject to considerable anthropogenic pressures and there have been many attempts to quantify the status of the system at organizational levels from DNA strand breaks (Comet) to the system itself (Ecological Network analysis, ENA). Using Dublin Bay as an example, the data show there was considerable variability at all levels of organization. At intracellular level, Lysosome Membrane Stability (LMS, assessed by Neutral Red Retention, NRR) varied almost 4-fold with season and individual condition, while the community level AZTI Marine biotic Index (AMBI) had a similar range within a single, supposedly homogeneous, site. Overall, there was no evidence that biomarkers of the lower levels of organisation reduced the variability of the measure, despite the extra control over influencing variables, nor was there any evidence that variability was additive at higher levels of organisation. This poses problems for management, especially given the fixed limits of Ecological Quality Standards (EQSs). Clearly while the integrated approach to pollution monitoring does offer the potential to link effects across the organizational range, it should also be possible to improve their capability by widening the database for reference values, particularly at the higher level of organization, and by process models, including the confounding variables found in the field, for those at lower level.