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Publication Type J
Authors Hempel, M., S. E. Botte, V. L. Negrin, M. N. Chiarello and J. E. Marcovecchio
Title The role of the smooth cordgrass Spartina alterniflora and associated sediments in the heavy metal biogeochemical cycle within Bahia Blanca estuary salt marshes
Source Journal of Soils and Sediments
Author Keywords Environmental quality Heavy metal distribution Role of macrophytes Salt marshes Sediments Smooth cordgrass Spartina alterniflora HALIMIONE-PORTULACOIDES PHRAGMITES-AUSTRALIS SEWAGE-SLUDGE ARGENTINA MERCURY PLANT PHYTOREMEDIATION MACROPHYTES ECOSYSTEMS RELEASE
Abstract Background, aim, and scope Bahia Blanca estuary is characterized by the occurrence of large intertidal areas, including both naked tidal flats and salt marshes densely vegetated with Spartina alterniflora. The estuary is strongly affected by human activities, including industrial and municipal discharges, harbor maintenance, cargo vessels and boat navigation, oil storage and processing, etc. Even numerous studies have reported the occurrence and distribution of heavy metals in sediments and biota from this estuary, although the function of the halophyte vegetation on metals distribution was at present not studied. The main objective of the present study was to understand the potential role of the salt marshes as a sink or source of metals to the estuary, considering both the obtained data on metal levels within sediments and plants from the studied areas at naked tidal as well as vegetated flats. Materials and methods The selected study area, named Villa del Mar, was located in the middle estuary coast. The sampling was carried out under low tide conditions, and the sampling area was divided into two parts: A (close to Villa del Mar) and B (north-westerly of Villa del Mar). In each part, two integrated samples of S. alterniflora (the first in the medium-salt marsh and the second in the higher one) were collected. Also sediments associated with the roots of S. alterniflora were taken at the same locations, in addition to another sediment sample from the naked zones of the tidal flats (without any vegetation). After corresponding treatment at the laboratory, plant and sediment samples were mineralized according to Marcovecchio and Ferrer, J Coast Res 21:826-834, 2005), in order to measure their metal concentrations by atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS). Analytical quality (AQ) was checked against certified reference materials from NIES, Tsukuba (Japan). Results Most of the Spartina samples have shown highest Cd and Mn concentrations in the aerated parts of the plants, indicating an allocation process from the roots up to the leaves. Most of the samples have presented non-detectable Pb and Cr values. Cu, Fe, Ni, and Zn have presented highest concentrations in the underground parts of the plant, suggesting an accumulation process in the roots and rhizomes. In the case of sediments, samples from those sites located far away from Villa del Mar have presented greater concentrations on the sediments associated with underground parts of Spartina than those from the naked tidal flat, for almost all of the metals studied. Unlike this, the samples from the site close to Villa del Mar have shown the higher concentrations in sediments from the naked tidal flat. Discussion Marsh plants are known to absorb and accumulate metals from contaminated sediment, and this is one reason that allows wetlands to be used for wastewater treatment. It was observed that those sets of samples from the same salt marsh levels (e.g., A.1 and B.1, or A.3 and B.3) have shown similar heavy metal distribution trends, although even their corresponding concentrations could be different. Thus, the concentrations of Cu, Zn, Ni, and Fe in the medium-salt marshes were higher in the underground tissues (roots plus rhizomes), with the exception of Mn, which was seen to be higher in the aboveground parts. The same tendency occurs at high-salt marshes for these heavy metals, with the exception of Ni. This fact was sustained regarding the fact that the levels mentioned (medium-salt marsh and high-salt marshes) must have the same exposition to heavy metal sources, similar physical-chemical conditions regulating metal distribution within the compartments on the salt marshes or, simultaneously, both mentioned processes. Moreover, metals in this macrophyte can remain after the leaves have died and turned into detritus. The metals present in the detritus can be passed on to consumers (Quan et al., Mar Environ Res 64:21-37, 2007)). Keeping in mind that Bahia Blanca estuary's salt marshes are inundated twice each day by tidal water for 3-4 h, macrophytes may act as a conduit for the movement of metals from the sediment to the estuarine body and near-coastal system. Conclusions and recommendations Considering the comments on the previous paragraphs, salt marshes from Bahia Blanca estuary are sources or sinks for metals? It can be sustained that both are the case, even if it is often stated that wetlands serve as sinks for pollutants, reducing contamination of surrounding ecosystems (Weis and Weis, Environ Int 30:685-700, 2004)). In the present study case, the sediments (which tend to be anoxic and reduced) act as sinks, while the salt marshes can become a source of metal contaminants. This is very important for this system because the macrophytes have been shown to retain the majority of metals in the underground tissues, and particularly in their associated sediments. This fact agreed well with previous reports, such as that from Leendertse et al., Environ Pollut 94:19-29, 1996) who found that about 50% of the absorbed metals were retained in salt marshes and 50% was exported. Thus, keeping in mind the large spreading of S. alterniflora salt marshes within Bahia Blanca estuary, it must be carefully considered as a re-distributor of metals within the system.
Author Address [Botte, Sandra E.; Negrin, Vanesa L.; Chiarello, Maria Nedda; Marcovecchio, Jorge E.] CCT CONICET Bahia Blanca, IADO, Area Oceanog Quim, RA-8000 Bahia Blanca, Buenos Aires, Argentina. [Hempel, Michael] Int Grad Sch Zittau, Dept Environm Proc Engn, D-02763 Zittau, Germany. [Botte, Sandra E.] Univ Nacl Sur, DBBF, RA-8000 Bahia Blanca, Buenos Aires, Argentina. [Marcovecchio, Jorge E.] Univ Tecnol Nacl, FRBB, RA-8000 Bahia Blanca, Buenos Aires, Argentina. [Marcovecchio, Jorge E.] Univ FASTA, RA-7600 Mar Del Plata, Argentina. Marcovecchio, JE, CCT CONICET Bahia Blanca, IADO, Area Oceanog Quim, Casilla Correo 804, RA-8000 Bahia Blanca, Buenos Aires, Argentina. jorgemar@criba.edu.ar
ISSN 1439-0108
ISBN 1439-0108
29-Character Source Abbreviation J. Soils Sediments
Publication Date Oct
Year Published 2008
Volume 8
Issue 5
Beginning Page 289-297
Digital Object Identifier (DOI) 10.1007/s11368-008-0027-z
Unique Article Identifier ISI:000259734100003
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