Ecotoxicological characteristics and ecological risk assessment of trace elements in the bottom sediments of the Rożnów reservoir (Poland)

  • Magdalena Szara
  • Agnieszka BaranEmail author
  • Agnieszka Klimkowicz-Pawlas
  • Marek Tarnawski


The bottom sediments in catchment areas behind dams play a significant role in water ecosystems. On the other hand, the structure of sediments makes them a natural geosorbent, in which pollutants introduced to the aquatic environment accumulate. The use of biotests is recognised as an important approach for the assessment of the quality of bottom sediments, as the chemical analysis of sediment samples alone does not provide evidence of the impact of contaminants on biota. The aim of the study was to apply the chemical and ecological indices to determine the potential risk posed by trace elements in the bottom sediments and to evaluate sediment toxicity using organisms belonging to two taxonomic groups, i.e., plants (Phytotoxkit) and crustaceans (Rapidtoxkit). The 46 sediment samples were taken from the Rożnów Dam Reservoir in Southern Poland. The mean concentration of the trace elements in the sediments was 5.22 mg As; 0.26 mg Cd; 63.23 mg Cr; 28.65 mg Cu; 37.11 mg Ni; 11.15 mg Pb; 69.69 mg Zn and 0.09 mg Hg ∙ kg−1 d.m. The mean probable effect concentration quotient (PECq) value among different sampling sites ranged between 0.04 and 0.33 suggested moderate potential toxicity to the biological communities in bottom sediments. The Ni was potentially the most toxic element for biota in the Rożnów Reservoir. The sensitivity of organisms formed the following order: Thamnocephalus platyurus >Lepidium sativum >Sinapis alba >Sorghum saccharatum. For the plants, the stimulating effect of bottom sediments on root growth was often indicated, while a toxic effect was demonstrated for T. platyurus in 80% of the samples. However, the correlation analysis and PCA results showed that trace elements that originated from similar sources were associated to the toxicity of sediments towards T. platyurus, while ecotoxicity for plants could not be explained by the content of trace elements in bottom sediments. T. platyurus is a good indicator for predicting the toxicity of bottom sediments from the Rożnów Reservoir. However, our study found that both chemical and ecotoxicological analyses are important for a comprehensive evaluation of the quality of bottom sediments.


Quality of bottom sediments Pollutions Biotest Plants Crustaceans 



The study was financed by grant no. 2016/21/B/ST10/02127: “Assessment of the bottom sediment organic matter on bioavailability and toxicity of chemical compounds” provided by the National Science Centre, Poland.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural and Environmental ChemistryUniversity of Agriculture in KrakowKrakowPoland
  2. 2.Department of Soil Science Erosion and Land ProtectionInstitute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation, State Research InstitutePuławyPoland
  3. 3.Department of Hydraulic Engineering and GeotechnicsUniversity of Agriculture in KrakowKrakowPoland

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