More field relevant ecological assessments, apart from single species tests using standard species, are needed to better predict agrochemical effects at higher ecosystems levels. Therefore, an experiment using a non-target aquatic community was used to test the hypothesis of the negative effect of a single pulse of copper sulfate on plankton abundance, structure, richness and diversity endpoints. Microcosms (20 l volume) were established during 21 days of experimentation, using six replicates for controls and with two concentrations of copper sulfate (High treatment, H: 20 µg Cu l−1; and Low treatment, L: 2 µg Cu l−1), both within the copper legal threshold following the Water Framework Directive (2000). The general lineal model found significant differences at the phytoplankton abundance endpoint at the end of the experiment, with an increase of phytoplankton abundance in L treatments dominated by the smaller cell size class. The principal response curve on zooplankton data, despite being insignificant, pointed out some dissimilarities in abundance and structure between treatments and controls: treatments showed lower abundances and were richer in cladocerans and copepods than the control microcosm where rotifers and nauplii were dominant. This indicated that trends change in community structure due to the effects of copper sulfate, and that even if the copper concentrations under study were within legal limits, they showed potential to induce changes in planktonic communities.

You do not currently have access to this content.