Heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are ubiquitous contaminants that frequently co-occur in coastal environments. These contaminants can have negative impacts on the health and stability of marine and coastal ecosystems, affecting both the organisms themselves and the humans who consume them. A coastal industrial park in central Chile, housing a coal thermal power plant and other industrial activities, contributes to such pollution of coastal waters; however, neither the spatial alongshore distribution of heavy metals and PAHs, nor an assessment of their ecological effects on the biota have been systematically documented to date. In this paper, we present evidence regarding the direct negative effect of contamination by heavy metals and PAHs on the early life stages of kelps—being extremely harmful to their population persistence near highly polluted sites—as well as the indirect effects of their transference through the food web to higher trophic levels, leading to negative consequences for the feeding intake, growth, fertility, and larval development of marine herbivores that consume the contaminated seaweed. Likewise, the dispersion of contaminants by ocean currents can exacerbate the effects of pollution, having an adverse influence on marine ecosystem health even at sites far from the pollution source. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate the distribution patterns and extent of pollution along the coast to understand the impact of heavy metals and PAHs pollution on seaweed populations and the food web. It is considered critical for the development of effective environmental policies and regulations to protect these ecosystems and the people who depend on them.
Áreas temáticas de ASJC Scopus
- Ciencias acuáticas