Author(s): Vidal Martnez VM
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Abstract There is no doubt that the aquatic environments receive large quantities of chemicals as consequence of human activities and that those substances have a detrimental effect on human health. Despite the obvious need for effective disposal of these substances, we need to understand and prevent the outcome of harmful environmental exposures. Thus, we need biomarkers and bioindicators to advance our understanding to these harmful exposures and their biological effects. In the last three decades a large number of publications has suggested that aquatic organisms and their parasites (mainly helminths and ciliate protozoans) are useful bioindicators of chemical pollution. However, the main weakness of this approach is that after exposure the population size of these parasites can increase or decrease without a consistent pattern. I suggest that this is in part due to the lack of focus on the correct spatial or temporal scales at which the environment is acting over our study object. Thus, I propose to use spatially explicit (= georeferenced) data for determining whether there is spatial structure in our study area. Spatial structure is the tendency of nearby samples to have attribute values more similar than those farther apart. These attributes are shaped by environmental variables acting at specific spatial and temporal scales. Thus, I suggest to consider these tools for determining the correct spatial or temporal scales of study, but also to record pollutant concentrations, bioindicators, biomarkers and parasites at individual host level. Combining this information with long-term monitoring programs is likely to improve our understanding of the effects of chemical pollutants over the aquatic environments.
This article was published in Parassitologia
and referenced in Journal of Oceanography and Marine Research