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Sensitivity of the early life stages of a mayfly to fine sediment and orthophosphate levels

Everall, Nicholas C.; Johnson, Matthew F.; Wood, Paul; Mattingley, Lauren


Nicholas C. Everall

Paul Wood

Lauren Mattingley


The ecological effects of interacting stressors within lotic ecosystems have been widely acknowledged. In particular, the ecological effects of elevated fine sediment inputs and phosphate have been identified as key factors influencing faunal community structure and composition. However, while knowledge regarding adult and larval life stage responses to environmental stressors has grown, there has been very limited research on their eggs. In this study, the eggs of the mayfly Serratella ignita (Ephemerellidae: Ephemeroptera) were collected and incubated in laboratory aquaria to hatching under differing concentrations of inert suspended sediment (SS) and orthophosphate (OP), individually and in combination. Results indicate that SS and OP have greater effects on egg hatching in combination than when either were considered in isolation. SS displayed a greater effect on egg survival than OP in isolation or when OP was added to elevated SS treatments. Egg mortality in control treatments was around 6% compared to 45% in treatments with 25 mg 1⁻¹ SS and 52% in 0.3 mg 1⁻¹ OP treatments. Even relatively modest levels of each stressor (10 mg 1⁻¹ SS; 0.1 mg 1⁻¹ OP), below national legal thresholds, had significant effects on egg survival to hatching. The results support calls for legal levels of SS to be reassessed and suggest that more research is required to assess the impacts of pollution on invertebrate egg development given their different sensitivity and exposure pathways compared to other life stages.


Everall, N. C., Johnson, M. F., Wood, P., & Mattingley, L. (2018). Sensitivity of the early life stages of a mayfly to fine sediment and orthophosphate levels. Environmental Pollution, 237, 792-802.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 31, 2017
Online Publication Date Nov 15, 2017
Publication Date 2018-06
Deposit Date Nov 23, 2017
Publicly Available Date Nov 16, 2019
Journal Environmental Pollution
Print ISSN 0269-7491
Electronic ISSN 1873-6424
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 237
Pages 792-802
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Sensitivity of the early life stages of a mayfly to fine sediment and orthophosphate levels; Journal Title: Environmental Pollution; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Everall et al. 2017.pdf (1.8 Mb)

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