A Review of Grass Shrimp, Palaemonetes spp., as a Bioindicator of Anthropogenic Impacts
PETER B. KEY, EDWARD F. WIRTH, AND MICHAEL H. FULTON
National Ocean Service, Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Coastal systems are ecologically important environments due to their diversity and productivity, but they can also serve as sinks for pollutants transported via runoff and atmospheric deposition. Grass shrimp, of the genus Palaemonetes, are a common inhabitant of East and Gulf coast estuaries of the United States and are proposed in this paper as a bioindicator of human impacts on estuarine systems. Using grass shrimp as such would involve their entire life cycle and consist of biomonitoring studies, in situ and laboratory toxicity tests, and development of biomarkers of exposure. The current interest in developing ecological indicators has put a renewed relevance on grass shrimp research. This paper reviews ecologically based studies, toxicity testing, and sublethal assessments in grass shrimp and shows how they have laid the groundwork for this genus to be an indicator species. It is concluded that correlating traditional grass shrimp assays with ecological monitoring and biomarkers of exposure is a goal that will have to be met if environmental managers are to make informed decisions on the use of this crustacean as a model species.
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