Shedding the load: moulting as a cause of variability in whole-body metal concentrations

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O'Callaghan, Irene
Sullivan, Timothy
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Oxford University Press
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Moulting is a biological process shared by aquatic macroinvertebrates, but while the exoskeleton is believed to be a major sink of metal pollutants, the contribution of the moulting of the crustacean exoskeleton to total accumulated metal concentrations is insufficiently considered. We present a conceptual, qualitative model that illustrates the impact of moulting on the whole-body burden of an unspecified metal analyte in a hypothetical moulting invertebrate. The model demonstrates that moult stage is a contributor to the whole-body pollutant concentration, and that this introduces a temporal component even in steady-state exposure conditions. The applicability of this model is illustrated by comparison to published results of pre- and post-moult accumulations. A solution for reducing this variability in the measurement of whole-body metal concentrations is presented, and its potential application to both ex-situ and in-situ studies of biomonitor species is discussed.
Aquatic environment , Bioaccumulation , Body burden , Crustaceans , Ecdysis, , Measurement errors , Exoskeleton , Macroinvertebrates , Metal pollution
O’Callaghan, I. and Sullivan, T. (2020) 'Shedding the load: moulting as a cause of variability in whole-body metal concentrations', Journal of Crustacean Biology, 40(6), pp. 725-733. doi: 10.1093/jcbiol/ruaa077
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Crustacean Society. All rights reserved. This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Crustacean Biology following peer review. The version of record is available online at: