Development and Validation of a Biodynamic Model for Mechanistically Predicting Metal Accumulation in Fish-Parasite Systems

Because of different reported effects of parasitism on the accumulation of metals in fish, it is important to consider parasites while interpreting bioaccumulation data from biomonitoring programmes. Accordingly, the first step is to take parasitism into consideration when simulating metal bioaccumulation in the fish host under laboratory conditions. In the present study, the accumulation of metals in fish-parasite systems was simulated by a one-compartment toxicokinetic model and compared to uninfected conspecifics. As such, metal accumulation in fish was assumed to result from a balance of different uptake and loss processes depending on the infection status. The uptake by parasites was considered an efflux from the fish host, similar to elimination. Physiological rate constants for the uninfected fish were parameterised based on the covalent index and the species weight while the parameterisation for the infected fish was carried out based on the reported effects of parasites on the uptake kinetics of the fish host. The model was then validated for the system of the chub Squalius cephalus and the acanthocephalan Pomphorhynchus tereticollis following 36-day exposure to waterborne Pb. The dissolved concentration of Pb in the exposure tank water fluctuated during the exposure, ranging from 40 to 120 μg/L. Generally, the present study shows that the one-compartment model can be an effective method for simulating the accumulation of metals in fish, taking into account effects of parasitism. In particular, the predicted concentrations of Cu, Fe, Zn, and Pb in the uninfected chub as well as in the infected chub and the acanthocephalans were within one order of magnitude of the measurements. The variation in the absorption efficiency and the elimination rate constant of the uninfected chub resulted in variations of about one order of magnitude in the predicted concentrations of Pb. Inclusion of further assumptions for simulating metal accumulation in the infected chub led to variations of around two orders of magnitude in the predictions. Therefore, further research is required to reduce uncertainty while characterising and parameterising the model for infected fish.


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