Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Environmental Toxicology

Committee Chair/Advisor

Klaine, Stephen J

Committee Member

Lee , Cindy M

Committee Member

Arai , Yuji

Committee Member

Roberts , Aaron P


Suspended sediments are a natural component of aquatic ecosystems but anthropogenic activity such as land development can result in significant increases, especially following rain events due to surface erosion. Continuous exposures of suspended clay and silt have been shown to effect growth and reproduction of Cladocera, leading to a decrease in population growth rate. The mechanism of clay toxicity in these filter-feeding organisms is clogging of the gut tract resulting in decreased food uptake and assimilation. When placed in clean water, daphnids can purge clay from their gut and recover. In many surface waters, aquatic organisms experience episodic exposures of high concentrations of suspended solids driven by rain events. However, little is known about the consequences of pulsed exposures on individuals and populations. The objective of the present study was to characterize the effects of continuous and pulsed exposures of natural and defined clays on survival, growth, and reproduction of Daphnia magna. Two defined clays, montmorillonite and kaolinite, as well as clay isolated from the Piedmont Region of South Carolina, USA were used. Continuous exposures of clays elicited a dose dependent decrease in survival. Toxicity varied depending on clay source with montmorillonite > natural clay > kaolinite. Pulsed exposures caused a decrease in survival in a 24 h exposure of 734 mg/L kaolinite. Exposure to 73.9 mg/L also caused an increase in the time to gravidity although there was not a corresponding decrease in neonate production over 21 d. No significant effects resulted from 12 h exposures even at 730 mg/L, almost 10 times the 24 h reproductive effects concentration. This suggests that exposure duration impacted toxicity more than exposure concentration in these pulsed exposures.



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