Ecotoxicological data for obligate groundwater species are increasingly required to inform environmental protection for groundwater ecosystems. Bathynellid syncarids are one of several crustacean taxa found only in subsurface habitats. The aim of this paper is to assess the sensitivity of an undescribed syncarid (Malacostraca: Syncarida: Bathynellidae) to common groundwater contaminants, arsenic(III), chromium(VI) and zinc, and examine the bioaccumulation of As and Zn in these animals after 14-day exposure. Arsenic was the most toxic to the syncarid (14-day LC50 0.25 mg As/L), followed closely by chromium (14-day LC50 0.51 mg Cr/L) and zinc (14-day LC50 1.77 mg Zn/L). The accumulation of Zn was regulated at exposure concentrations below 1 mg Zn/L above which body concentrations increased, leading to increased mortality. Arsenic was not regulated and was accumulated by the syncarids at all concentrations above the control. These are the first published toxicity data for syncarids and show them to be among the most sensitive of stygobitic crustaceans so far tested, partly due to the low hardness of the groundwater from the aquifer they inhabit and in which they were tested. The ecological significance of the toxicant accumulation and mortality may be significant given the consequent population effects and low capacity for stygobitic populations to recover.
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