Unusual male size vs sperm count relationships in a coastal marine amphipod indicate reproductive impairment by unknown toxicants

Marina Tenório Botelho, Neil Fuller, Monizze Vanucci, Gongda Yang, Kara Richardson, Alex Ford

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Sperm quantity/quality are significant reproductive endpoints with clear links to population level dynamics. Amphipods are important model organisms in environmental toxicology. Despite this, field monitoring of male fertility in invertebrates has rarely been used in monitoring programs. The aim of this study was to compare sperm quality/quantity in an amphipod collected at six UK locations with differing water quality. Due to low sperm counts and an observed lack of relationship between sperm count and weight in amphipods collected from a nationally protected conservation area (Langstone Harbour, England), we also compared datasets from this site over a decade to determine the temporal significance of this finding. One collection to evaluate a female reproductive endpoint was also performed at this site. Interestingly, this harbour consistently presented some of the lowest sperm counts comparable to highly industrial sites and low eggs number from females. Amphipods collected from all the sites, except from Langstone Harbour, presented strong positive correlations between sperm count and weight. Given Langstone Harbour has several international and national protected statutes primarily for marine life and birds, our results indicate that E. marinus, one important food component for wading birds, might be impacted by unknown reproductive stressors. These unknown stressors maybe related to agricultural runoff, leachate from historical landfills and effluent from storm water overflows. This study highlights the importance of exploring new reproductive endpoints such as sperm quantity/quality in marine monitoring programs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105793
Number of pages8
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Early online date25 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • UKRI
  • NERC
  • NE/L000393/1


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