Freshwater Invertebrate Ecotoxicology

Ecotoxicological bioassays with invertebrates are regularly used for assessing and monitoring the impact of pollutants on aquatic ecosystems.

Chironomus tepperi  eggs embedded in a jelly mass
Chironomus tepperi eggs are embedded in a jelly mass in a helicoidal pattern. Credit: Quentin Lange.

Freshwater Invertebrates Ecotoxicology

Ecotoxicological bioassays with invertebrates (such as insects, worms, molluscs, and crustaceans) are regularly used for assessing and monitoring the impact of pollutants on aquatic ecosystems. The small size, easy maintenance and relatively short life cycle of invertebrates are a few examples of the traits that make them optimal test organisms.

Our research focusses on providing more environmentally relevant tests by expanding the range of bioassays and optimising existing testing methodologies for Australian species. Currently, we are developing new methods with different species (snails and crustaceans) and determining their sensitivity to a number of different toxicants. Once established, these bioassays will offer additional opportunities for research in other areas (e.g. biomarker analyses and “-omics”).

Our ultimate aim is to establish standard test protocols to be used in the risk assessment of chemicals, providing a valid and useful toolset for regulatory frameworks.

For more information, please contact Dr Valentina Colombo colombom@unimelb.edu.au.