Seasonal ecotoxicological monitoring of freshwater zooplankton in Bir Mcherga dam (Tunisia)

  • Sabria BarkaEmail author
  • Imene Gdara
  • Zouhour Ouanes-Ben Othmen
  • Samia Mouelhi
  • Monia El Bour
  • Amel Hamza-Chaffai
Environmental Pollution, Food Contamination, Risk Assessment and Remediation


Dams represent large semi-closed reservoirs of pesticides and various organic and inorganic pollutants from agricultural and human activities, and their monitoring should receive special attention. This study evaluated the environmental health status of Bir Mcherga dam using zooplankton species. The dam has a capacity of 130 Mm3 and its waters are used for irrigation, water drinking supply, and fishery. Copepods and cladocerans (crustaceans) were collected in situ monthly between October and August 2012. Oxidative stress (CAT, MDA), neurotoxicity (AChE), and genotoxicity (micronucleus test) biomarkers were analyzed in two zooplankton species: Acanthocyclops robustus and Diaphanosoma mongolianum. High values of cells with a micronucleus were observed during summer. AChE activities were inhibited during early winter and summer. The high seasonal variability of CAT and MDA levels indicates that zooplankton is continuously exposed to different oxidative stresses. These results suggest that there is an obvious and continuous multi-faceted stress in Bir Mcherga reservoir and, consequently, an urgent monitoring of freshwater environments in Tunisia is needed, particularly those intended for human consumption and irrigation.


Bir Mcherga dam Zooplankton Catalase Malondialdehyde Acetylcholinesterase Micronucleus test 



This study was done in the frame of the MOTOX programme Institut National des Sciences et Technologies de la Mer (INSTM-Tunisia). The authors express their gratitude to the Ecotoxicology Unit of INSTM (Monastir) and particularly to Dr. Rym Ben Dhiab and Dr. Hatem Ben Ouada and to the people in charge of Bir Mcherga dam in the district of Zaghouan for their assistance. We also thank Nick Dettman for the English corrections.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There is no conflict of interest among the co-authors, and the primary author confirms that this original research article is not under consideration for publication anywhere else.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabria Barka
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Imene Gdara
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zouhour Ouanes-Ben Othmen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Samia Mouelhi
    • 3
  • Monia El Bour
    • 4
  • Amel Hamza-Chaffai
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut Supérieur de Biotechnologie de MonastirMonastirTunisia
  2. 2.Unité de Recherche de Toxicologie Environnementale et Marine, UR 09-03, IPEISSfax UniversitySfaxTunisia
  3. 3.Unité de Recherche de Biologie Animale et Systématique Evolutive 2092, Campus Universitaire, Manar IIFaculté des Sciences de TunisTunisTunisia
  4. 4.Laboratoire de Biotechnologie et Biodiversité AquatiquesNational Institute of Sea Sciences and Technologies INSTMSalammbôTunisia

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