Elucidating cellular and behavioural effects of contaminant impact (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PAHs) in both laboratory-exposed and field-collected shore crabs, Carcinus maenas (Crustacea Decapoda)

Awantha Dissanayake, Camilla Piggott, Christopher Baldwin, Katherine A. Sloman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)


Monitoring effects of contaminants at lower levels of biological organisation (e g biochemical and cellular) allows for mechanistic evaluation of effects of contaminant exposure through laboratory exposures However higher level organism effects (e g physiological and behavioural) are deemed more ecologically-relevant. In the present study cellular (cell viability and immune function) physiological (cardiac activity) and behavioural (foraging behaviour) responses were evaluated in field-collected shore crabs Carcinus maenas from three estuaries (a relatively (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon) PAH-contaminated site (Plym Estuary) and two comparatively clean field sites (Avon and Yealm Estuaries)] and compared with responses of crabs exposed in the laboratory to a model organic contaminant (PAH) pyrene (200 fig I-I for 28 days) The hypothesis that behavioural indicators may be more sensitive than other more traditional methods was tested No significant impacts were observed at the cellular or physiological level in Plym-collected crabs (the relatively contaminated site) but foraging behaviour was significantly altered (increased prey handling time) compared to individuals collected from the relatively uncontaminated sites (Avon and Yealm) When given a cockle as a prey item both Plym-collected and laboratory-exposed crabs took longer to handle and break into cockle shells Therefore ecologically-relevant behavioural observations may serve as valuableindicators of environmental quality
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-373
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Carcinus maenas
  • PAH
  • Pyrene
  • Behaviour
  • Physiology

Cite this