Arcellacea (testate amoebae) as bio-indicators of road salt contamination in lakes.

Helen M. Roe, R. Timothy Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Winter deicing operations occur extensively in mid- to high-latitude metropolitan regions around the world and result in a significant reduction in road accidents. Deicing salts can, however, pose a major threat to water quality and aquatic organisms. In this paper we examine the utility of Arcellacea (testate amoebae) for monitoring lakes that have become contaminated by winter deicing salts, particularly sodium chloride. We analysed 50 sediment samples and salt-related water-property variables (chloride concentrations; conductivity) from 15 lakes in the Greater Toronto Area and adjacent areas of southern Ontario, Canada. The sampled lakes included lakes in proximity to major highways and suburban roads, and control lakes in forested settings away from road influences. Samples from the most contaminated lakes, with chloride concentrations in excess of 400 mg/l and conductivities of >800 μS/cm, were dominated by species typically found in brackish and/or inhospitable lake environments and by lower faunal diversities (lowest Shannon Diversity Index values) than samples with lower readings. Q-R-mode cluster analysis and Detrended Correspondence Analysis (DCA) resulted in the recognition of four assemblage groupings. These reflect varying levels of salt contamination in the study lakes, along with other local influences, including nutrient loading. The response to nutrients can, however, be isolated if the planktic eutrophic indicator species Cucurbitella tricuspis is removed from the counts. The findings show that the group have considerable potential for biomonitoring in salt-contaminated lakes, and through application to lake sediment cores, may provide significant insights into long-term benthic community health, which is integral for remedial efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-313
Number of pages15
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number2
Early online date13 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


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