Bioacciimulation of copper in the tissues of Potamonautes warreni (Calman) (Crustacea, Decapoda, Branchiura), from industrial, mine and sewage-polluted freshwater ecosystems

  • V.E. Steenkamp
  • H.H. du Preez
  • H.J. Schoonbee


The copper concentration detected in the water and sediments of the Natalspruit River, Bronkhorstspruit River and Nooitgedacht Dam exceeded certain stated limits for the protection of aquatic life. Despite considerable individual variation, the general ranking of copper concentrations in the various tissues was carapace < muscle < gonads < midgut gland < gills. Seasonal variation was detected in the bioaccumulation of copper in crabs sampled from the Natalspruit River. However, this phenomenon did not occur in crabs from the other two water bodies. A significant increase in copper concentrations was detected with a decrease in size, indicating that the size of the crabs is an important influencing factor in the bioaccumulation of copper. It was also found that more copper accumulated in the ovary than in the testis per unit weight. The bioaccumulation factors (BF) calculated for the different tissues with respect to the water were highest in the gills and midgut gland (785,00 – 1257,50 and 432,00 – 1340,00, respectively). The BF with respect to the copper concentration in the sediments was comparatively low for all the tissues (<0,10 – 2,74). It appears that P. warreni is able to regulate the copper concentrations in its various tissues and is therefore not a suitable indicator of the presence of copper in the aquatic environment.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2224-073X
print ISSN: 1562-7020