Size Scaling of Contaminant Trace Metal Accumulation in the Infaunal Marine Clam Amiantis umbonella

  • Qaiser Tarique
  • Joanna Burger
  • John R. ReinfelderEmail author


Size scaling of the accumulation of four trace metals was examined in the infaunal clam Amiantis umbonella in Kuwait Bay. In clams of varying shell length (2.5–5 cm), soft tissue growth in A. umbonella from a contaminated site was inhibited compared with clams from a less contaminated reference site. Body burdens of all four metals were positively correlated with clam soft tissue wet weight, but for Cd, Cu, and Pb, correlations were stronger in clams from the contaminated site (r2 = 0.6–0.9, p < 0.001) than the reference site (r2 = 0.2–0.3, p < 0.002). Scaling factors for the accumulation of Cd, Cu, and Pb in the soft tissues of A. umbonella from both sites were not significantly different than 1, indicating that clams accumulated these metals in proportion to growth with little regulation. The scaling factor of Hg in clams from the contaminated site also was 1 but was 0.5 and 2.4 for high and low Hg accumulating subpopulations of clams from the reference site, respectively. The greater retention of Hg with respect to growth in clams from the reference site than from the contaminated site requires further investigation to determine differences in Hg bioavailability at the two sites and the form of Hg these clams accumulate.



The authors thank Mohammed Sarawi, the former director of the Environmental Public Authority of Kuwait, for assistance in collecting and processing specimens, data management, and laboratory analysis. They also thank Faiza Al-Yamani of the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research and Manaf Behbehani and Salim Al-Mohanna of the University of Kuwait for their assistance. The digitized coastline was provided by Khaled Al-Salem of the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research. This research was supported by a Hatch/McIntyre-Stennis grant through the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station and was performed under approved Rutgers University protocols. The results, conclusions and interpretations reported herein are the sole responsibility of the authors.


Funding was provided by New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (US) (Project No. 07125).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 16 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Life Sciences, Department of Ecology and EvolutionRutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental SciencesRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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