Low levels of copper reduce the reproductive success of a mobile invertebrate predator

Ka Man Lee*, Emma L. Johnston

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    Marine organisms that occur in urbanised bays can be exposed to low-level chronic pollution that results in sublethal changes to behavior or reproduction. The effects of low levels of copper on the reproductive success of a mobile invertebrate were assessed. Free living flatworms are common predators of bivalves and barnacles. Flatworms (Stylochus pygmaeus) were exposed to low levels of copper ranging from 0 to 25 μg L-1 in the presence and absence of their barnacle prey (Balanus variegatus). Flatworms laid fewer egg batches when exposed to copper and the hatching success of the eggs was also reduced. Exposure to 25 μg L-1 copper for 10 d reduced the reproductive success of flatworms by up to 80%. Results were consistent regardless of the presence or absence of prey (barnacles). Barnacles were only moderately affected by copper but exhibited major avoidance behavior (feeding inhibition) in the presence of flatworm predators. This is the first ecotoxicological study on marine flatworms. Experiments are required to quantify the effects of flatworm predator populations on sessile invertebrate community structure in the field. Crown

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)336-346
    Number of pages11
    JournalMarine Environmental Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2007


    • Barnacles
    • Copper
    • Flatworms
    • Reproductive success
    • Stylochus pygmaeus


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