Macrobenthic invertebrates as bioindicators of trace elements in high-mountain lakes.Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2020 Feb; 27(6):5958-5970.ES
Alpine lakes are extreme ecosystems located in remote areas and populated by few but well-adapted species. Because of their remote location, they are often considered pristine, unpolluted ecosystems. Since the 1980s, however, they have been affected by global anthropogenic impacts. Macrobenthic invertebrates play a pivotal role in these ecosystems and can be used as bioindicators also for monitoring the accumulation of trace elements. We characterized the macrobenthic invertebrates community of Balma Lake (Cottian Alps, Northwest Italy) and Dimon Lake (Carnic Alps, Northeast Italy) in summer and autumn and measured the levels of nine trace elements (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Ni, Pb, Se, Zn) in the most abundant taxa (Chironomidae and Oligochaeta in both lakes and Hirudinea in Dimon Lake) in both seasons. The highest levels of trace elements were recorded for Fe, Cu, and Zn according to their environmental availability and their function as essential elements. The total amount of trace elements was highest for the Chironomidae from both lakes compared to the other two taxa. As, Cd, Pb, and Zn were measured in sediment to calculate bioaccumulation factor (BAF) values. The amount of elements in sediment and macrobenthic invertebrates was higher for Dimon Lake, suggesting a greater flux via precipitation of contaminants from the lowland. The BAF values were decreased with increasing trace elements concentration in sediment, indicating mechanisms of elements excretion in biota where the environment is contaminated. This study is the first to report on the use of macrobenthic invertebrates to monitor trace elements in Alpine lakes.