Environmental quality assessment combining sediment metal levels, biomarkers and macrobenthic communities: Application to the Obidos coastal lagoon (Portugal)

Patrícia Pereira*, Susana Carvalho, Fábio Pereira, Hilda De Pablo, Miguel B. Gaspar, Mário Pacheco, Carlos Vale

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Macroinvertebrate benthic communities are one of the key biological components considered for the assessment of benthic integrity in the context of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). However, under moderate contamination scenarios, the assessment of macrobenthic alterations at community level alone could be insufficient to discriminate the environmental quality of coastal and transitional waters. Keeping this in view, sediment quality of moderately contaminated sites in a coastal lagoon (Obidos lagoon, Portugal) was assessed by the combination of sediment metal levels, Carcinus maenas biomarkers (accumulated metals and oxidative stress responses) andmacrobenthic communities. Two sites were selected in confined inner branches (BS and BB) and a third one in the middle lagoon (ML). The site BB presented slightly higher levels of metals in sediment but biological variables calculated for macrobenthic data were not significantly different between sites. The biotic index M-AMBI that is being applied to assess environmental quality of transitional waters in the scope of theWFD pointed either to high (siteML) or good quality status (BS and BB) in the selected sites. However, crabs from BB site presented significantly higher levels of Ni in hepatopancreas than those from ML and macrobenthic community structure was significantly different between BB and ML. Additionally, spatial differences were obtained for oxidative stress parameters suggesting that BB site presented stressors for crabs (higher GST and lower GSHt at BB site). Factor analysis (PCA) integrating sediment contamination, biomarkers in crabs and macrobenthic data also distinguished BB site as the most environmentally disturbed. On the other hand, at ML site, some macrobenthic variables (equitability and polychaetes' diversity) were found to be enhanced by current environmental conditions, suggesting the existence of a better sediment quality. Current results pointed to the usefulness of integrating macrobenthic community alterations with responses at organism level (bioaccumulation and biochemical endpoints) in order to increase the accuracy of environmental quality assessment in lagoon systems. Moreover, the application of different statistical methods was also found to be recommendable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7141-7151
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Carcinus maenas
  • Macrobenthic communities
  • Metals
  • Obidos lagoon
  • Oxidative stress
  • Sediment quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Environmental quality assessment combining sediment metal levels, biomarkers and macrobenthic communities: Application to the Obidos coastal lagoon (Portugal)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this