Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Use of riparian spiders as sentinels of persistent and bioavailable chemical contaminants in aquatic ecosystems: A review

February 3, 2022

Aquatic ecosystems around the world are contaminated with a wide range of anthropogenic chemicals, including metals and organic pollutants, that originate from point and nonpoint sources. Many of these chemical contaminants have complex environmental cycles, are persistent and bioavailable, can be incorporated into aquatic food webs, and pose a threat to the health of wildlife and humans. Identifying appropriate sentinels that reflect bioavailability is critical to assessing and managing aquatic ecosystems impacted by contaminants. The objective of the present study is to review research on riparian spiders as sentinels of persistent and bioavailable chemical contaminants in aquatic ecosystems. Our review of the literature on riparian spiders as sentinels suggests that significant progress has been made during the last two decades of research. We identified 55 published studies conducted around the world in which riparian spiders (primarily of the families Tetragnathidae, Araneidae, Lycosidae, and Pisauridae) were used as sentinels of chemical contamination of lotic, lentic, and estuarine systems. For several contaminants, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), Hg, and Se, it is now clear that riparian spiders are appropriate sentinels. However, many contaminants and factors that could impact chemical concentrations in riparian spiders have not been well characterized. Further study of riparian spiders and their potential role as sentinels is critical because it would allow for development of national-scale programs that utilize riparian spiders as sentinels to monitor chemical contaminants in aquatic ecosystems. A riparian spider sentinel program in the United States would be complementary to existing national sentinel programs, including those for fish and immature dragonflies. 

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Use of riparian spiders as sentinels of persistent and bioavailable chemical contaminants in aquatic ecosystems: A review
DOI 10.1002/etc.5267
Authors Matthew M. Chumchal, Gale B. Beaubien, Ray W. Drenner, Madeline P. Hannappel, Marc A. Mills, Connor I. Olson, Ryan R. Otter, Andrew C. Todd, David Walters
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Series Number
Index ID 70228699
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center

Related Content