, Volume 23, Issue 9, pp 1764–1773 | Cite as

Effects of dietborne cadmium on life history and secondary production of a tropical freshwater cladoceran

  • J. P. Souza
  • D. C. Melo
  • A. T. Lombardi
  • M. G. G. Melão


The presence of metals in aquatic environments has increased worldwide. Environmental assessments of metals in freshwater ecosystems presume that toxicity is mainly caused by aqueous exposure, but dietborne exposure (contaminated food) in zooplankton may occur because microalgae carry metal ions through adsorption/absorption of dissolved metal species, resulting in toxic effects once ingested by the animals. However, official regulations for ecotoxicological assays in most countries do not consider the toxic effects caused by dietborne exposure. Here, we provide life history parameters and secondary production of Simocephalus serrulatus (Koch 1841) (Cladocera: Daphniidae) fed with cadmium (Cd) contaminated algae during a 21-day bioassay. The microalgae Chlorophyceae Scenedesmus quadricauda was exposed for 96 h to dissolved Cd concentrations of 0.03; 5.87; 12.27 and 22.27 µg Cd l−1 (equivalent to 1.6 × 10−10; 3.2 × 10−8; 6.7 × 10−8; 1.2 × 10−7 mol l−1) that resulted in algae internal Cd burdens of 0.004; 0.032; 0.270 and 0.280 pg Cd cell−1, respectively. Significant toxic effects on life history parameters of S. serrulatus were observed. Time of embryonic development, generation time and age at first reproduction (primipara) showed significant delay. Length at first reproduction, number of eggs and clutches produced per female, hatching percentage, body length, survival and feeding rates were significantly reduced. Secondary production, that is, accumulated biomass for growth and reproduction, decreased significantly with dietborne Cd concentrations. Our results emphasize that food can be an important source of metals to zooplankton in aquatic ecosystems. Environmental regulations should consider the diet in ecotoxicological assessments. Furthermore, secondary production may be considered as a suitable endpoint in ecotoxicity tests.


Ecotoxicity Food Metal Microalgae Zooplankton 



This work was supported by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo - FAPESP (Proc. No. 2008/03487-0; 2008/02078-9; 2008/05464-7) and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico - CNPq (Proc. No. 305183/2008-7; 556588/2009-6). The authors thank Dr. Hugo Sarmento for your assistance in the paper review.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. P. Souza
    • 1
  • D. C. Melo
    • 1
  • A. T. Lombardi
    • 2
  • M. G. G. Melão
    • 1
  1. 1.Plankton Laboratory, Hydrobiology DepartmentFederal University of São CarlosSão CarlosBrazil
  2. 2.Algae Biotechnology Laboratory, Botany DepartmentFederal University of São CarlosSão CarlosBrazil

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