SPICE (Stress of Pisces as Indicator for the Control of watEr quality) project
Characterization and validation of a new stress indicator for fish as an indicator for water quality
water quality, biological indicator, stress, pollution, fluctuating asymmetry, otolith
ECOMERS, University Nice-Sophia Antipolis, France
Patricia Pierson

Fondation UNICE (www.fondation-unice.org)

Funding > 100 000 euros



Start : October 2015; end : no limit. 

The aim of this project is to evaluate, routinely, easily, and at low cost, quality of water, monitoring changes in fish physical conditions (biological indicator) as results of exposure to pollution stress, in any area of interest.

For the present project, initial idea is that vertebrates develop with right-left symmetry (even if this is never perfect, for example we are right-handed or left-handed more often) and that generally more important is disturbance (stress) during animal development, more visible is morphological asymmetry. We work in parallel in aquaria and in situ to measure water pollution impact on fish development (on larvae or juveniles), on the size and shape of their otoliths (structures like small “stones” in the head, in the right and left inner ears). Superimposition of right and left otoliths (one in red and one in green) for one sea bass is presented on the above picture.

The availability of such a new tool would allow regular spatiotemporal monitoring for proving (with possibility of public relations) that no higher level of pollution or of other anthropogenic impact occurs (on costal Mediterranean areas for example). Obviously this tool would be useful for environmental managers working for marine biodiversity conservation.

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