Dr. Halldór Pálmar Halldórsson, director of University of Iceland's Research Center in Suðurnes (Reykjanes peninsula), will present his research on the blue mussel as a bioindicator of pollution in Icelandic waters:
The blue mussel (Mytilus spp.) is widely used as a monitoring organism for estuarine and marine ecosystems. It has many advantages as a bioindicator; it is robust, widespread, sessile, easily accessible and transplanted, as well as being an important component of many coastal ecosystems. Mussels can pump large volumes of water and accumulate a wide range of chemicals, reflecting their environmental status of contaminants.
Mussel watch programmes have been used worldwide to assess pollution levels of coastal zones by measuring accumulation of chemicals and/or biological effects within the mussels. For the past 30 years blue mussels have been used for that purpose in Iceland. This presentation gives an overview of past and present studies using field collected and transplanted (caged) mussels as bioindicators in Icelandic waters. Uptake and bioaccumulation patterns of pollutants and related biomarker responses in the mussels will be discussed. In short, the biomarkers reflected pronounced effects of harbour pollutants (e.g. PAHs, organotins, metals) seen at different levels of biological organization. However, different conditions depending on seasons and location of the animals (intertidal vs. subtidal, pre-exposure to contaminants) should be carefully considered when designing biomarker studies and monitoring programmes using mussels.