Special Issue "Assessment of Different Contaminants in Freshwater: Origin, Fate, and Ecological Impact"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Hydrology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Diana M. P. Galassi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of L’Aquila, Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, Via Vetoio, Italy
Tel. +39-08-6243-3227
Interests: groundwater, ecology, pollution, GDEs (groundwater-dependent ecosystems), biodiversity assessment, meiofauna, stygobites
Dr. Tiziana Di Lorenzo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Research Institute on Terrestrial Ecosystems CNR—National Research Council of Italy, Via Madonna del Piano, 10, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino (FI), Italy
Interests: groundwater, ecology, ecotoxicology, ecological risk assessment in freshwater, invertebrates
Prof. Grant Hose
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, NSW 2109, Australia
Tel. +61-(0)2-9850-6296
Interests: freshwater ecology, ecohydrology, groundwater, bioindicators, ecotoxicology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Freshwaters in many parts of the world are subject to frequent and intense large-scale disturbances. Pollution, irrigation withdrawal, alteration of freshwater flows, road construction, aquifer mining, surface water diversion, desertification, wetland drainage, soil erosion in agriculture, deforestation, and dam building have led to some irreversible species losses and severe changes in community compositions of freshwater ecosystems. Pollution represents one of the most relevant impacts on freshwater environments, ranging from surface water bodies—such as springs, streams, rivers, lakes, and intermittent waterbodies—to groundwater and transitional habitats between surfacewaters and groundwaters. The origins and fates of pollutants are different, and depend on the pollutants considered: including fertilizers, together with pesticides, in agricultural areas; heavy methals, chlorinated organic compounds, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) predominantly deriving from industrial and urban settlements; as well as microplastics, which are increasing in concentration in freshwater bodies, and which, together with pharmaceuticals, personal care products (PCPs), and endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs), constitute the emerging contaminants in freshwater systems. The broad distribution of several pollutants is leading to significant changes of freshwater ecosystems, together with the extinction of the most sensitive species or the drastic lowering in abundances of others, thus altering community compositions and the ecosystem services provided by freshwater biodiversity.

Prof. Diana M. P. Galassi
Dr. Tiziana Di Lorenzo
Prof. Grant Hose
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • freshwater
  • pollution
  • emerging contaminants
  • microplastics
  • ecotoxicology
  • ecological impact
  • freshwater communities
  • biodiversity

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Preliminary Analysis of the Diet of Triturus carnifex and Pollution in Mountain Karst Ponds in Central Apennines
Water 2020, 12(1), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12010044 - 20 Dec 2019
Abstract
Mountain karst ponds are sensitive environments, hosting complex trophic networks where amphibians play a major role, often as top predators. The diet of the Italian crested newt (Triturus carnifex) is still poorly known for populations occupying mountain karst ponds. These are [...] Read more.
Mountain karst ponds are sensitive environments, hosting complex trophic networks where amphibians play a major role, often as top predators. The diet of the Italian crested newt (Triturus carnifex) is still poorly known for populations occupying mountain karst ponds. These are traditionally used as livestock’s watering points, leading to water pollution due to excreta and wading behavior. The aim of this paper is to understand the relationship between T. carnifex diet composition, assessed through the stomach flushing technique, and physical and chemical characteristics in mountain ponds, focusing on parameters altered by livestock pressure, such as ammonium concentration and dissolved oxygen. The high diversity of prey items found within the newts’ gut contents confirms the generalist diet even in mountain ponds. The number of prey taxa, their relative abundance and Shannon–Wiener diversity index show variations among the sampled sites, related to livestock organic pollution. Moreover, we report the very first European records of microplastic items in amphibians’ stomach content, which also represent the first evidence for Caudata worldwide. Our findings suggest that livestock pressure directly influences T. carnifex diet and highlight that the emerging issue of plastics is a threat even in remote high-altitude environments. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Application of Artificial Mussels in Conjunction with Transplanted Bivalves to Assess Elemental Exposure in a Platinum Mining Area
Water 2020, 12(1), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12010032 - 20 Dec 2019
Abstract
There is increasing evidence that platinum group elements (PGE) are pollutants of emerging concern worldwide. Limited information exists on levels, particularly in regions where PGEs are mined. A passive sampling device (i.e., the artificial mussel (AM)) and transplanted indicator organisms (i.e., the freshwater [...] Read more.
There is increasing evidence that platinum group elements (PGE) are pollutants of emerging concern worldwide. Limited information exists on levels, particularly in regions where PGEs are mined. A passive sampling device (i.e., the artificial mussel (AM)) and transplanted indicator organisms (i.e., the freshwater clam Corbicula fluminalis africana) were deployed along a PGE mining gradient in the Hex River, South Africa, and concentrations of As, Cd, Co, Cr, Ni, Pb, Pt, V, and Zn were determined after six weeks of exposure. Results showed differential uptake patterns for Pt, Cr, and Ni between the AMs and clams indicating availability differences. For monitoring purposes, a combination of AMs and indicator organisms provides a more holistic assessment of element exposure in aquatic environments. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Use of Larval Morphological Deformities in Chironomus plumosus (Chironomidae: Diptera) as an Indicator of Freshwater Environmental Contamination (Lake Trasimeno, Italy)
Water 2020, 12(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12010001 - 18 Dec 2019
Abstract
The mentum deformity incidence in Chironomus plumosus larvae to assess the environmental contamination level in Lake Trasimeno, Central Italy, was investigated. The survey lasted from May 2018 to August 2019. Fifty-one samplings were carried out: 34 in the littoral zone and 17 in [...] Read more.
The mentum deformity incidence in Chironomus plumosus larvae to assess the environmental contamination level in Lake Trasimeno, Central Italy, was investigated. The survey lasted from May 2018 to August 2019. Fifty-one samplings were carried out: 34 in the littoral zone and 17 in the central zone. The deformity assessment was based on 737 and 2767 larval specimens of C. plumosus collected from the littoral and central zones, respectively. Comparison of the larval morphometric variables between normal and deformed specimens highlighted that the deformities did not cause alterations of the larval growth. The deformity incidence amounted to 7.22% in the whole Trasimeno’s ecosystem, reaching 8.28% in the littoral zone and 6.94% in the central zone. Among the different seasonal cohorts, the spring cohort had overall the highest deformity value (11.41%). The deformity type assessment protocol highlighted that the most common deformity type was “round/filed teeth” (64%). The results of this 2018–2019 survey revealed a low deformity incidence, within the background range of relatively low-impacted freshwaters. Comparison with previous investigations (2000–2010) of the same habitat showed a clear decrease of the deformity incidence. This study further contributes to the evaluation of the mentum deformity in chironomids that represent an indicator endpoint of the anthropogenic contamination level in freshwaters. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Physiological Profiling and Functional Diversity of Groundwater Microbial Communities in a Municipal Solid Waste Landfill Area
Water 2019, 11(12), 2624; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11122624 - 12 Dec 2019
Abstract
The disposal of municipal solid wastes in landfills represents a major threat for aquifer environments at the global scale. The aim of this study was to explore how groundwater geochemical characteristics can influence the microbial community functioning and the potential degradation patterns of [...] Read more.
The disposal of municipal solid wastes in landfills represents a major threat for aquifer environments at the global scale. The aim of this study was to explore how groundwater geochemical characteristics can influence the microbial community functioning and the potential degradation patterns of selected organic substrates in response to different levels of landfill-induced alterations. Groundwaters collected from a landfill area were monitored by assessing major physical-chemical parameters and the microbiological contamination levels (total coliforms and fecal indicators—Colilert-18). The aquatic microbial community was further characterized by flow cytometry and Biolog EcoPlatesTM assay. Three groundwater conditions (i.e., pristine, mixed, and altered) were identified according to their distinct geochemical profiles. The altered groundwaters showed relatively higher values of organic matter concentration and total cell counts, along with the presence of fecal indicator bacteria, in comparison to samples from pristine and mixed conditions. The kinetic profiles of the Biolog substrate degradation showed that the microbial community thriving in altered conditions was relatively more efficient in metabolizing a larger number of organic substrates, including those with complex molecular structures. We concluded that the assessment of physiological profiling and functional diversity at the microbial community level could represent a supportive tool to understand the potential consequences of the organic contamination of impacted aquifers, thus complementing the current strategies for groundwater management. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Mapping Micro-Pollutants and Their Impacts on the Size Structure of Streambed Communities
Water 2019, 11(12), 2610; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11122610 - 11 Dec 2019
Abstract
Recently there has been increasing concern over the vast array of emerging organic contaminants (EOCs) detected in streams and rivers worldwide. Understanding of the ecological implications of these compounds is limited to local scale case studies, partly as a result of technical limitations [...] Read more.
Recently there has been increasing concern over the vast array of emerging organic contaminants (EOCs) detected in streams and rivers worldwide. Understanding of the ecological implications of these compounds is limited to local scale case studies, partly as a result of technical limitations and a lack of integrative analyses. Here, we apply state-of-the-art instrumentation to analyze a complex suite of EOCs in the streambed of 30 UK streams and their effect on streambed communities. We apply the abundance–body mass (N–M) relationship approach as an integrative metric of the deviation of natural communities from reference status as a result of EOC pollution. Our analysis includes information regarding the N and M for individual prokaryotes, unicellular flagellates and ciliates, meiofauna, and macroinvertebrates. We detect a strong significant dependence of the N–M relationship coefficients with the presence of EOCs in the system, to the point of shielding the effect of other important environmental factors such as temperature, pH, and productivity. However, contrary to other stressors, EOC pollution showed a positive effect on the N–M coefficient in our work. This phenomenon can be largely explained by the increase in large-size tolerant taxa under polluted conditions. We discuss the potential implications of these results in relation to bioaccumulation and biomagnification processes. Our findings shed light on the impact of EOCs on the organization and ecology of the whole streambed community for the first time. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
AQUALIFE Software: A New Tool for a Standardized Ecological Assessment of Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems
Water 2019, 11(12), 2574; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11122574 - 06 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
We introduce a suite of software tools aimed at investigating multiple bio-ecological facets of aquatic Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs). The suite focuses on: (1) threats posed by pollutants to GDE invertebrates (Ecological Risk, ER); (2) threats posed by hydrological and hydromorphological alterations on [...] Read more.
We introduce a suite of software tools aimed at investigating multiple bio-ecological facets of aquatic Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs). The suite focuses on: (1) threats posed by pollutants to GDE invertebrates (Ecological Risk, ER); (2) threats posed by hydrological and hydromorphological alterations on the subsurface zone of lotic systems and groundwater-fed springs (Hydrological-Hydromorphological Risk, HHR); and (3) the conservation priority of GDE communities (Groundwater Biodiversity Concern index, GBC). The ER is assessed by comparing tolerance limits of invertebrate species to specific pollutants with the maximum observed concentration of the same pollutants at the target site(s). Comparison is based on an original, comprehensive dataset including the most updated information on tolerance to 116 pollutants for 474 freshwater invertebrate species. The HHR is assessed by accounting for the main direct and indirect effects on both the hyporheic zone of lotic systems and groundwater-fed springs, and by scoring each impact according to the potential effect on subsurface invertebrates. Finally, the GBC index is computed on the basis of the taxonomical composition of a target community, and allows the evaluation of its conservation priority in comparison to others. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Potential of A Trait-Based Approach in the Characterization of An N-Contaminated Alluvial Aquifer
Water 2019, 11(12), 2553; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11122553 - 03 Dec 2019
Abstract
Groundwater communities residing in contaminated aquifers have been investigated mainly through taxonomy-based approaches (i.e., analyzing taxonomic richness and abundances) while ecological traits have been rarely considered. The aim of this study was to assess whether a trait analysis adds value to the traditional [...] Read more.
Groundwater communities residing in contaminated aquifers have been investigated mainly through taxonomy-based approaches (i.e., analyzing taxonomic richness and abundances) while ecological traits have been rarely considered. The aim of this study was to assess whether a trait analysis adds value to the traditional taxonomy-based biomonitoring in N-contaminated aquifers. To this end, we monitored 40 bores in the Vomano alluvial aquifer (VO_GWB, Italy) for two years. The aquifer is a nitrate vulnerable zone according to the Water Framework Directive. The traditional taxonomy-based approach revealed an unexpectedly high biodiversity (38 taxa and 5725 individuals), dominated by crustaceans, comparable to that of other unpolluted alluvial aquifers worldwide. This result is in contrast with previous studies and calls into question the sensitivity of stygobiotic species to N-compounds. The trait analysis provided an added value to the study, unveiling signs of impairments of the groundwater community such as low juveniles-to-adults and males-to-females ratios and a crossover of biomasses and abundances curves suggestive of an intermediate alteration of the copepod assemblages. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Toxicity and Uptake of As, Cr and Zn in a Stygobitic Syncarid (Syncarida: Bathynellidae)
Water 2019, 11(12), 2508; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11122508 - 28 Nov 2019
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Marble Slurry’s Impact on Groundwater: The Case Study of the Apuan Alps Karst Aquifers
Water 2019, 11(12), 2462; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11122462 - 23 Nov 2019
Abstract
Modern sawing techniques employed in ornamental stones’ exploitation produce large amounts of slurry that can be potentially diffused into the environment by runoff water. Slurry produced by limestone and marble quarrying can impact local karst aquifers, negatively affecting the groundwater quality and generating [...] Read more.
Modern sawing techniques employed in ornamental stones’ exploitation produce large amounts of slurry that can be potentially diffused into the environment by runoff water. Slurry produced by limestone and marble quarrying can impact local karst aquifers, negatively affecting the groundwater quality and generating a remarkable environmental and economic damage. A very representative case-study is that of the Apuan Alps (north-western Tuscany, Italy) because of the intensive marble quarrying activity. The Apuan Alps region extends over about 650 km2; it hosts several quarries, known all over the world for the quality of the marble extracted, and a karst aquifer producing about 70,000 m3/day of high-quality water used directly for domestic purposes almost without treatments. In addition, Apuan Alps are an extraordinary area of natural and cultural heritage hosting many caves (about 1200), karst springs and geosites of international and national interest. During intense rain events, carbonate slurry systematically reaches the karst springs, making them temporarily unsuitable for domestic uses. In addition, the deterioration of the water quality threatens all the hypogean fauna living in the caves. This paper provides preliminary insights of the hydrological and biological indicators that can offer information about the impact of the marble quarrying activities on groundwater resources, karst habitats and their biodiversity. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Food Shortage Amplifies Negative Sublethal Impacts of Low-Level Exposure to the Neonicotinoid Insecticide Imidacloprid on Stream Mayfly Nymphs
Water 2019, 11(10), 2142; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11102142 - 15 Oct 2019
Abstract
Interactions of pesticides with biotic or anthropogenic stressors affecting stream invertebrates are still poorly understood. In a three-factor laboratory experiment, we investigated effects of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, food availability, and population density on the New Zealand mayfly Deleatidium spp. (Leptophlebiidae). Larval mayflies (10 [...] Read more.
Interactions of pesticides with biotic or anthropogenic stressors affecting stream invertebrates are still poorly understood. In a three-factor laboratory experiment, we investigated effects of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, food availability, and population density on the New Zealand mayfly Deleatidium spp. (Leptophlebiidae). Larval mayflies (10 or 20 individuals) were exposed to environmentally realistic concentrations of imidacloprid (controls, 0.97 and 2.67 μg L−1) for nine days following five days during which individuals were either starved or fed with stream algae. Imidacloprid exposure had severe lethal and sublethal effects on Deleatidium, with effects of the lower concentration occurring later in the experiment. The starvation period had delayed interactive effects, with prior starvation amplifying imidacloprid-induced increases in mayfly impairment (inability to swim or right themselves) and immobility (no signs of movement besides twitching appendages). Few studies have investigated interactions with other stressors that may worsen neonicotinoid impacts on non-target freshwater organisms, and experiments manipulating food availability or density-dependent processes are especially rare. Therefore, we encourage longer-term multiple-stressor experiments that build on our study, including mesocosm experiments involving realistic stream food webs. Full article
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