The effects of differences in the level of oxygenation of sediment or water on the condition and copper content of two bivalves, the Baltic clam Macoma balthica and the cockle Cerastoderma edule, were assessed. Specimens from four intertidal flats in the Netherlands and France were compared, translocated and exposed to different levels of oxygen in the laboratory. Cockles showed no significant differences in condition and copper content between animals from Light (= more oxygenated) and dark (= less oxygenated) sediments. Baltic clams also showed no differences in condition, but the clams had a higher copper content (concentration as well as body burden) in dark than in light sediments. During the translocation experiments no significant changes occurred. In the laboratory experiments the level of oxygen had no effect on the condition or copper content of the Baltic clam. The only factor affecting the copper content of Baltic clams was the addition of copper to the water or sediment. The copper, organic carbon and silt fraction (<16 mu m) was higher in dark sediments than in light sediments. The copper content in the sediment was positively related to the silt and organic carbon content. We argue that the relation between coloration (= degree of oxygenation) of sediments and the copper content of Baltic clams could be indirect: due to a higher silt fraction and/or organic content at some places on a tidal flat, these places are more hypoxic and therefore darker, whereas simultaneously these places have a higher copper concentration because of more copper-complexing sites land surface), whereby the higher copper concentration in the sediment relates to a higher copper concentration in the clams. [KEYWORDS: bivalves; oxygen; condition; copper; bioavailability translocation; sediment; silt fraction Heavy-metal contamination; san-francisco bay; macoma-balthica; trace-metals; cu; zn; cd; pb; toxicity; cadmium]
Original languageEnglish
Journal publication date1998

ID: 146648