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Title: Seasonal effects of treated sewage effluents upon the reproduction and development of European freshwater molluscs
Author: Clarke, Neil
ISNI:       0000 0004 2685 8822
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2009
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The most widespread evidence of environmental endocrine disruption in aquatic wildlife is from the feminising effects of oestrogenic endocrine disrupting compounds. However, very little is known of the effects of these chemicals (and others) upon freshwater molluscs found in our river and lakes. This thesis aimed at evaluating the effects of treated sewage effluent upon the reproductive and developmental cycle of a range of commonly found European freshwater gastropod molluscs. Initial mesocosm experiments were undertaken to test a range of mollusc species for their the suitability to the experimental system, and to test adult snails for their reproductive and developmental responses during spring to summer time. With suitable species chosen, P.corneus, a pulmonate species (sequential hermaphrodite), and V. Viviparus a prosobranch species (dioeious; separate sexes), full reproductive output was assessed over summertime and into autumn, along with developmental responses amongst the F1 generation of snails. My results suggest that the affects of effluent upon the reproductive and developmental cycle of P. corneus are strongly mitigated by both day length and water temperature (day length is most important with V. viviparus); results are sensitive to seasonal effects. However, at the peak of reproduction mid summer, P. corneus produced significantly more egg masses in effluent (100% effluent particularly), and more than one parameter of reproduction was affected. Egg masses were significantly smaller in effluent and contained significantly fewer eggs per mass. Further, there were indications that total reproductive output was increased (100% effluent significantly) in effluent compared to the river water control. In the prosobranch species V. viviparus results were less convincing, however, in 100% effluent a second reproductive peak occurred that was not seen in river water. Further, in both species there was a failure of certain reproductive parameters to observe the normal seasonal decline towards winter. In P. corneus there was a failure to stop producing egg masses in effluent, in V. viviparus the second reproductive peak in effluent could also threaten their survival with winter approaching. Developmental effects in the F1 generation were the subject of preliminary investigations, however, F1 V. viviparus demonstrated a higher than normal incidence of intersex (male and female developmental features) in effluent, and P. corneus appeared to have disturbed reproductive function (disturbance of both male and female reproductive function in the ovotestis). Therefore, both of these species of molluscs demonstrated that they are sensitive to the effects of effluent in mesocosm studies. However, we need to understand much more about their responses to effluent; in particular whether these effects could have repercussions for wild mollusc populations, and whether these effects could occur over more than one generation of snail threatening the survival of wild populations of molluscs.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Endocrine disruption ; Endocrine systems ; Water quality