Because sponges are promising bioindicators, we present here a multispecies comparison of the bioconcentration capacity for copper, zinc and the hydrocarbon fluoranthene.
The spatial distribution of sponge populations was studied in 17 areas in intertidal zones on the Lower Normandy coast (France) to determine the most common species with the highest bioaccumulation capacity. Results are compared with published data on blue mussels Mytilus edulis from the Réseau d'Observation de la Contamination Chimique biomonitoring network. A total of 720 sponge samples were collected to assess species richness. Samples were analysed for metal concentrations by flame-mode atomic absorption spectrometry. Analyses of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon were sub-contracted. Species richness varies according to the water mass concerned. The most common species in the study area showing the highest bioconcentration in its soft tissues is Hymeniacidon perlevis, which contains about 20 times the zinc, 44 times the copper and 16 times the fluoranthene levels found in mussels. The variability of contaminant concentrations in H. perlevis is also systematically higher than those in mussels. The results obtained for this sponge closely reflect the heterogeneous distribution of contaminants. This study demonstrates that H. perlevis has a much higher capacity to accumulate in situ contaminants than the blue mussel M. edulis. H. perlevis meets all the requirements of a good bioindicator suitable for use in an integrated monitoring programme. In the near future, controlled cultivation of H. perlevis will allow us to produce sufficient quantities of this species to carry out ecotoxicological tests and in situ biomonitoring by caging