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Water Resources, Vol. 32, No. 3, 2005, pp. 305–313. Translated from Vodnye Resursy, Vol. 32, No. 3, 2005, pp. 337–346.

Original Russian Text Copyright © 2005 by Ostroumov.


On Some Issues of Maintaining Water Quality
and Self-Purification
S. A. Ostroumov
Moscow State University, Leninskie Gory, Moscow, 119992 Russia
Received August, 4, 2003

Abstract—Generalizations presented in this paper represent, in systematized form, the basic elements of the
qualitative theory of water self-purification in freshwater and marine ecosystems. Recommendations are given
for maintaining water quality and sustainable development of water resources. Results of experimental studies
of the effect exerted by Triton X-100 and OMO synthetic detergent on mollusks Unio tumidus.

INTRODUCTION 0.4–1.7, and 0.4–2.0 m/day at T = 15, 20, and 25°C,
The role of self-purification increases due to the dete- respectively. According to our data, the sedimentation
rioration of natural water quality [5, 13, 29] and velocity of Lymnaea stagnalis pellets varies from 0.6 to
increased anthropogenic load on water bodies and 1.4 cm/s with a mean value of 0.82 cm/s (at T = 22–
streams [4, 9, 13, 21, 22, 26, 29]. The self-purification of 24°ë) [22].
aquatic ecosystems and water quality formation is con- Experiments with traps for suspended particles
trolled by many [1–3, 6–13, 15–19, 21, 22, 24, 33, 35]. showed that suspended matter precipitates onto the bed of
The objective of this study is to systematize the the Moskva River with a mean rate of 2.3 mg per 1 cm2 of
knowledge about the polyfunctional role of aquatic the bed surface per day, that is, 23.1 g per 1 m2 of the
biota (aquatic animals) in the self-purification of water bed surface per day; the proportion of Corg in these sed-
bodies and streams and briefly present the qualitative iments is 64.5% [34].
theory of the self-purification mechanism of aquatic Organic matter oxidation and water filtration by
ecosystems. The synthesis and structurization of mate- aquatic animals are among the biotic processes contrib-
rial was made at the conceptual level without detailed uting to water purification.
reviews of works. The overall oxidation of organic matter by the entire
community can be expressed either in absolute or in rel-
ative units, for example, as the ratio of energy expendi-
MAJOR PROCESSES CONTRIBUTING ture to the exchange (total respiration R) by aquatic ani-
TO WATER SELF-PURIFICATION mals to their total biomass B. This ratio (R/B)e is
IN AQUATIC ECOSYSTEMS referred to as Schrodinger ratio. The subscript “e” is
The formation of water quality and its purification in introduced to show that the estimation is made for the
aquatic ecosystems is governed by physical, chemical ecosystem as a whole. In the water bodies where pri-
[24], and biotic [1–3, 6–13, 15–19, 21, 22, 24, 33, 35] mary production exceeds the total respiration of the
processes (Table 1). community, this ratio averages 2.99–6.1 [2], but it can
The physical and chemical processes of water self- be even greater in some water bodies. For example, the
purification are often controlled by biological factors or Schrodinger ratio is 17.0 in Lake Lyubevoe in Lenin-
strongly dependent on them. Thus, the redox state of grad province and 33.8 in Lake Zun-Torei east of Lake
the aquatic environment, which forms with the participa- Baikal [2]. It is believed that the primary production in
tion of H2O2 released by microalgae in the light [22, 24], these lakes is much less than the total respiration and a
is of importance for a decrease in the toxic effect of large amount of organic matter delivered from outside
some pollutants. The amount of H2O2 released into the is oxidized here.
aquatic environment was estimated at 10–5 mol/(l day). Many aquatic animals contribute to organic matter
The concentration of H2O2 in the Volga was found to oxidation, but particular role in this oxidation belongs
equal up to 10–6–10–5 mol/l, which was supported by to bacteria [19]. The total population of heterotrophic
measurements made by E.V. Shtamm and other authors bacterioplankton in the Mozhaisk Reservoir in June and
[22, 24]. July amounted to (1.36–5.9) × 109 (samples were taken
An important process is gravitational sedimentation at a depth of 0.1–1 m), and the population of hydrocar-
of suspended particles both of biotic and abiotic nature. bon-oxidizing bacteria was (0.4–5) × 106 cell/ml [7].
The sedimentation of phytoplankton sedimentation The rate of water filtration by some aquatic animals
depends on water temperature T. It is equal to 0.3–1.5, (sea squirts, barnacles, pearlweeds, echinoderms,

0097-8078/05/3203-0305 © 2005 MAIK “Nauka /Interperiodica”

Table 1. Some factors and processes of water self-purification [13, 22]. (DOM is dissolved organic matter)
Factors and processes of water self-purification Comments
Physical and physicochemical processes
Dissolution and dilution Mechanical transfer of water masses can depend on the abun-
dance of macrophytes;
Transfer to the shore The same
Transfer to neighboring water bodies and streams The same
Sorption by suspended particles with subsequent sedimentation Depends on the concentration of suspended particles of biog-
enous nature in water
Sorption by bottom sediments Depends of the concentration of organic matter of biogenous
nature in bottom sediments
Evaporation May depend on the surface film, the properties of which
depend on the composition of DOM
Chemical processes
Hysrolysis May depend on pH which changes during planktonic
Photochemical transformations Depends on the concentration of photosensitizers of
biogenous nature and water transparency, which, in its turn,
depends on plankton
Redox–catalytic transformations Concentration of catalytically active form of metal ion
depends on the pH of the environment, which, in its turn,
depends on the photosynthetic activity of plankton
Transformations involving free radicals Depend on the concentration of H2O2 that forms with the par-
ticipation of aquatic animals (photosensitized transformation
of DOM, release by microalgae)
Decrease in the toxicity of pollutants as a result of binding Depends on DOM of biogenous nature; the role of humic
with DOM acids is possible
Chemical oxidation of pollutant with the participation of oxygen Depends on O2 release into water during photosynthesis
Biological processes
Release of O2 taking part in many reactions of pollutant The same
Porption and accumulation of pollutants and nutrients by Depends on the population and activity of aquatic animals
aquatic animals
Biotransformation (redox–reactions, destruction, conjugation) The same
Extracellular enzymatic transformation of pollutants Depends on the population and activity of aquatic animals
Removal of suspended particles and pollutants from water Is inhibited under the effect of some pollutants (surfactants,
column as a result of water filtration by aquatic animals synthetic detergents) [33]
Removal of pollutants from water as a result of sorption Pellet formation is reduced when feeding of aquatic animals
by pellets excreted by aquatic animals is inhibited
Release into water of organic matter, which can be used Organic matter release by phytoplankton was recorded.
by bacteria or exert a regulatory effect on them Higher aquatic plants also release exometabolites
Release into water of organic matter that serves as a photosensi- Depends on the population and functional activity of aquatic
tizer of pollutant photolysis or predecessors of photosensitizers animals
Release into water of organic matter (or predecessors of such The same
matter), which will bind with pollutants with the formation
of less toxic complexes
Release into water of organic matter (or predecessors of such Microalgae release hydrogen peroxide
matter), which participate in free-radical and redox–catalytic
mechanisms of pollutant destruction
Release into water of vitamins, which are necessary for the Water of lakes and pools contains, µg/l: vitamin B12 (0.001–0.85),
vital activity of some aquatic animals, participating in thiamine (0.001–12), biotin (0.0001–0.1), niacin (up to 3.3),
self-purification of aquatic ecosystems pantothenic acid (up to 0.26), and others vitamins [35]
Release or inactivation of part of bacteria, including pathogenic Takes place at filtration activity of aquatic animals; can take
strains place under the effect of metabolites of aquatic animals
Prevention or hampering of the release of nutrients and pollut- Depends on the population and functional activity of benthos
ants from bottom sediments into water; accumulation and
binding of nutrients and pollutants by benthic organisms
Biotransformation and sorption of pollutants in soil during Depends on the soil biocenoses
soil watering by wastewaters
Regulation of the population and activity of organisms partic- Depends on the preservation of intact community
ipating in the processes of water purification as a result of
organism-to-organism interaction

WATER RESOURCES Vol. 32 No. 3 2005

Table 2. Characteristics of filtration activity of some aquatic animals [22]. Here and in Tables 3, 6, dash means no data available
Wet weight (mean), Water filtration by one Specific filtration activity, ml/mg
Animal species
W, g animal F, ml/day of wet weight per 1 day, F/W
Keratella quadrata 0.001020* 0.25 246.0
Filinia sp. 0.000855* 0.40 468.0
Epiphanes brachionus 0.001800* 0.29 161.0
Bosmina longirosris 0.016000* 6.55 409.3
Cladoceras, various species – 20–40 (rarely to 130) –
Copepods, various species – 2–4 (sometimes to 27) –
Unio pictorum, length 91–100 mm 72.400(with the shell) 1238** 17***
Dreissena polymorpha 0.065 (dry weight 500–700** –
without shell)
Plumatella fungosa – – 2.2 ml per 1 mg dry weight
of the colony per hour
Cyprinotus carolinensis – ~4 –
* mg.
** ml/h.
*** ml/g per 1 h.

bivalves, gastropods, polychaetes, and sponges) com- microorganisms sorbed on particulates that move
monly amount to 1–9 l/h per 1 g of de-ashed dry mass within water column due to sedimentation of particles
of their body [21, 22]. The dependence of filtration rate under the effect of gravity; as a result, the water mass
FR, l/h, on the mass of the aquatic animal DW, g, can and microorganisms moves relative to one another,
be described by the power function [1, 22] which is equivalent to the situation when water moves
through a porous substrate with microorganisms
FR = a DWb, (1) attached to walls [30]. Precipitation of a suspended par-
were DW is the dry weight of soft tissues, g. ticle, that is, its movement with respect to water,
The values of coefficient a for some mollusk species enhances O2 exchange between the sorbed bacteria and
vary from 6.8 to 11.6, and those of coefficient b lie the aquatic medium [6].
between 0.66 and 0.92 [22]. The processes and aquatic animals that serve as
The rate of water filtration by five mollusk species con- pumps [21, 22]: facilitating the transfer of part of pol-
verted to the area of their gills is about 1.2–1.9 ml/min per lutant from the water column into bottom sediments
1 cm2 [22]. (e.g., sedimentation, sorption); transferring part of pol-
The total rate of water filtration by populations of lutant from the water column into the atmosphere
macroinvertebrates (mollusks, sea squirts, polychaetes) (evaporation); transferring part of nutrients from water
was estimated at 1–10 m3 per 1 m2 of the bed of the into the territory of neighboring terrestrial ecosystems
aquatic ecosystem per 1 day [13, 22]. Additional data because of the emergence of imago of aquatic insects;
on the filtration activity of aquatic animals is given in transfer of part of nutrients from water onto the territory
Tables 2 and 3. of neighboring terrestrial ecosystems through fish-eat-
ing birds, which withdraw fish biomass from water.
The processes and aquatic animals that serve as
THE MAJOR COMPONENTS mills and split pollutants [21, 22]: intracellular enzy-
OF THE SELF-PURIFICATION MECHANISM matic processes; processes catalyzed by extracellular
OF AQUATIC ECOSYSTEMS enzymes; decomposition of pollutants by photolysis:
The hydrobiological self-purification mechanism of photochemical processes, sensitized by nutrients;
aquatic ecosystems incorporates three types of compo- destruction of pollutants in the free-radical processes
nents [21, 22]: filtration activity of organisms (“filters”) with the participation of biogenous ligands [24].
[30]; the mechanisms of transfer of chemicals from one
ecological compartment into another (from one
medium into another); splitting pollutant molecules. ENERGY SOURCES FOR BIOTIC
The processes and aquatic animals that serve as fil- OF AQUATIC ECOSYSTEMS
ters [21, 22, 30]: invertebrate filter-feeders [1, 25];
coastal macrophytes, which retain some nutrients and The processes of biotic self-purification of water
pollutants delivered into water from neighboring areas; take energy from the following sources: photosynthe-
benthos, which retains and absorbs part of nutrients and sis, oxidation of autochthonous and allochthonous
pollutants at the water–bottom sediment interface; organic matter; other redox reactions. Thus, practically

WATER RESOURCES Vol. 32 No. 3 2005

Table 3. Removal of suspension from water through the filtration activity of freshwater mollusks Unio tumidus. Vessel A
contains 10 mollusks with a mean weight (wet weight with the shell) of 18.99 g (12.97–25.73 g) and a total biomass of 189.94 g.
Mollusks were collected in the Moskva R. (Odintsovo district). Vessel B did non contain mollusks (check experiment). The
volume of water in each vessel was 500 ml, T = 19°C. Suspension of Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Time from Optical density at 500 nm
the beginning (optical path of 10 mm)
Visual observations
of the experi-
ment, min A B A/B, %
10 0.660 0.713 92.57 Water turbidity in vessels does not differ
20 0.585 0.715 81.82 Pellet lumps appear in vessel A; the medium is more transparent
than in vessel B
30 0.525 0.676 77.66 Pellet lumps are clearly seen in vessel A; water in the vessel
with mollusks is notably more transparent than that in vessel B
40 0.442 0.666 66.37 The same
60 0.295 0.598 49.33 "
70 0.242 0.581 41.65 "
85 0.184 – – "

all available energy sources are used. A part of the A significant role belongs to microorganisms (Table 4)
energy is supplied through oxidation of the components [3, 6, 7, 25], phytoplankton [21, 22], higher plants
(dissolved and particulate organic matter) which the [21, 22], protozoa [27], zooplankton [21, 22, 35],
system gets rid of [32]. benthic invertebrates [21, 22, 35], and fish. All these
Water self-purification is commonly associated with groups contribute largely to the self-purification of
organic matter oxidation by aerobic microorganisms. aquatic ecosystems, each group taking part in several
Equally important are anaerobic processes which processes.
receive energy from the transfer of electrons to accep-
tors other than oxygen. Anaerobic energetics feeds the Microbial processes of water self-purification are
metabolism of microorganisms of methanogenic com- associated basically with the activity of heterotrophic
munity (decomposition of organic matter results in the aerobic bacteria; however, representatives of practi-
production of ç2S, ç2, and ëç4), and anoxygenic pho- cally all major bacterial groups (>30) participate in the
2– key processes of organic matter destruction and self-
totrophic community (with the formation of S O 4 , purification of water bodies [6].
H2S, H2, and CH4) [15]. The products produced by
organisms of these communities are used as oxidation It is worth mentioning that the microorganisms par-
substrates by organisms of other communities, includ- ticipating in the destruction of biopolymers and in
ing the organisms that form the group referred to as a water self-purification system feature wide taxonomic
bacterial oxidation filter. The latter filter functions under diversity [6]. An important role in organic matter
aerobic conditions and oxidizes H2 (knellgasbacteria), destruction and self-purification of aquatic ecosystems
CH4 (methanotrophs), NH3 (nitrifiers), H2S (thiobacte- belongs also to eucaryotic microorganisms (protests),
ria), thiosulfate (thionic bacteria) [6]. in particular, Diplomonadea, kinetoplastides and
euglenes, ameboflagellates, dinoflagellates, infusoria,
For example, in Lake Mirror (USA), 19.1 g C/m2 of
heteroflagellates, cryptomonades, choanoflagellates,
lake surface is oxidized annually due to phytoplankton
respiration, 12.0 due to zooplankton respiration, 1.0 due and chitrids [6].
to macrophytes, 1.16 due to attached plants, 2.8 due to An important process of water self purification is water
benthic invertebrates, and 0.2 g C/m2 due to fish. Oxi- filtration by organisms of many taxa [1, 8, 21, 22, 25].
dation by bacteria in bottom sediments and by bacteri- A detailed list of taxa, including planktonic and benthic
oplankton accounts for 17.3 and 4.9 g C/m2 of lake sur- filterers in aquatic ecosystems, is given in [16].
face [35].
The contributions of different groups of organisms
to C removal from water of eutrophic Lake Esrum
CONTRIBUTION OF MAJOR TAXA (Denmark) in percent of the total C withdrawn from
TO SELF-PURIFICATION PROCESSES water are as follows: 24.4% by respiration of producers,
IN AQUATIC ECOSYSTEMS 20.9% by bacterial respiration, 30.7% by respiration of
Practically all major groups of organisms contribute consumers, 4.5% (appears to be determined not com-
to self-purification of aquatic ecosystems and forma- pletely) by the respiration of microorganisms in sedi-
tion of water quality [6, 9–14, 16–22, 27, 31–33, 35]. ments, 0.14% by the emergence of aquatic insects [35].

WATER RESOURCES Vol. 32 No. 3 2005

Table 4. Role of microbial communities in the self-purification of aquatic ecosystems (part of examples is given; some bac-
terial groups are involved in the functioning of communities of several types [6, 22] and others; VFA are volatile fatty acids)
Type of community Substate being transformed (consumed)
Methanogenic community Decompose biopolymers, form acetate, VFA, hydrogen, CH4
Sulfidogenic community Decompose biopolymers, produce VFA, hydrogen, acetate,
lactate, H2S, CH4
Anoxigenic phototrophic community (oxidation anoxic Consume VFA, hydrogen, lactate, acetate, H2S; produce
phototrophic filter) hydrogen, acetate, H2S, CH4, SO 4
Oxidation aerobic filter (gasotophs) Consume (oxidize) hydrogen, CH4, VFA, thiosulfate, H2S

Virtually all groups of organisms belonging to pro- normal state of habitats for the species represented in
caryotes and eucaryotes are necessary for water self- the ecosystem. Such regeneration of water quality is
purification. necessary for ecosystem stability, because autochtho-
nous and allochthonous organic matter and nutrients
are permanently delivered into water from land by
THE RELIABILITY OF WATER water of tributaries, atmospheric precipitation, and
SELF-PURIFICATION SYSTEM solid particles carried by air [35]. Therefore, water self-
The reliability of a technical system often relies on purification is as important for an aquatic ecosystem as
the presence of back-up components. Analysis of DNA repair is for the heredity system. This allows us to
aquatic ecosystems shows a similar principle to govern regard water self-purification as an environmental
their functioning. For example, the filtration activity of repair in aquatic ecosystems.
aquatic animals is doubled so that it is implemented by The wide range of variations in the filtration activity
two large groups of organisms, i.e., plankton and rates suggests the need to regulate this activity. The vol-
benthos. Both groups filter water with a considerable ume of water filtered within an hour and measured in
rate [1, 8, 13, 25]. Additionally, benthos duplicates the the body volumes of the filterer amounts to 5 × 106 for
activity of planktonic organisms permanently inhabit- nanoflagellates and 5 × 105 for ciliates [35]. Cladocer-
ing the pelagic zone, since the larvae of many benthic ans filter up to 4–14 ml per one organism per day [35]
filterers follow the planktonic pattern. Plankton incor- (according to [25], 20–130 ml). Copepods and rotifers
porates two large groups of many-celled invertebrate filter 2–27 [35] and 0.07–0.3 ml/day per animal,
filterers, i.e., crustaceans [25] and rotifers [8], both of respectively [8]. All these aquatic animals and other fil-
which implement water filtration. One more large terers remove suspension from water.
group of organisms (protozoa), which has somewhat Thus, all forms of regulation and communication of
different type of nutrition, also duplicates the filtration organisms within community are of importance for
activity of many-celled filterers (crustaceans and roti- maintaining the reliability of ecosystem functioning.
fers). An important role in the regulation and communication
The fermentative decomposition of pollutants is in aquatic communities belongs to dissolved sub-
partially duplicated by the activity of bacteria and stances, ecological chemoregulators and chemomedia-
fungi. Almost all aquatic animals, which are, in some tors [9, 19, 20].
way or another, capable of consuming and oxidizing
dissolved organic matter, perform this function.
Self-regulation of biota is an important component THE RELIABILITY OF WATER
of the reliability of water self-purification mechanism. SELF-PURIFICATION SYSTEM AND AQUATIC
The organisms that took active part in water self-purifi- ECOSYSTEM STABILITY
cation are subject to control of organisms of both lower
and higher trophic levels in the food chain. The regulat- Filtration activity is not only a part of water self-
ing role of organisms can be effectively studied with the purification process and water quality repair, but also a
use of the author’s method of inhibitor analysis of reg- part of processes that maintain the stability of the
ulatory interactions in trophic chains [11, 31]. aquatic ecosystem. The latter is performed through the
conditioning of water, which serves as a habitat for
Various forms of signaling, including information- many other aquatic species, and “the environmental tax
bearing chemicals (environmental chemoregulators for the environmental stability” that filterers pay in the
and chemomediators [9, 19, 20]) play an important role form of pellets of organic material. These pellets form
in the regulation of ecosystems. in the organisms of filterers (mollusks) from particulate
Water purification and permanent reproduction of organic matter they filter from water and release into
its quality is an important component for ecosystem the environment in the form of lumps. Pellets precipi-
self-stabilization. This enables the regeneration of the tate onto the bed of water bodies or streams. They are

WATER RESOURCES Vol. 32 No. 3 2005

Table 5. The effect of surfactant Triton X-100 (TX-100), 5 mg/l, to the withdrawal of suspension of unicellular organisms
from water because of inhibition of filtration activity of mollusks Unio tumidus. Here and in Table 6, EEW is the effect on
the efficiency of suspension withdrawal [13, 15]. Vessel A contains 10 mollusks with a mean weight (wet weight with a shell)
of 19.6 g, the total biomass of 196.25 g. Vessel B contains 10 mollusks with a mean weight (wet weight with a shell) of 19.4 g,
the total biomass of 194.2 g. The mollusks were conducted in the Moskva R. (Odintsovo district). Vessels C and D contained
no mollusks. Water volume in each vessel was 500 ml. T = 20°C. Suspension of Scenedesmus quadricauda was added into
each vessel (the age of the culture was 5 day; on Krats–Mayers medium, growth at T = 21°C)
Optical density at 500 nm (optical path of 10 mm)
Time from
the begin- solution solution
without without
ning of the of TX-100 of TX-100 Comment (visual observations)
TX-100 TX-100 EEF, %
experi- was added was added
ment, min
10 0.099 0.068 0.106 0.101 145.59 No difference was observed between the vessels;
the vessels contain no pellets
15 0.104 0.054 0.106 0.102 192.59 First lumps of microppellets appear in vessels A and B,
water in vessel B becomes more transparent than in all
other vessels
30 0.066 0.023 0.107 0.113 286.96 Pellets, which are clearly seen in vessel B, are larger than
the micropellets in vessel A; water in vessel B is more
transparent than in vessel A and other vessels
50 0.052 0.012 0.092 0.103 433.33 Pellets are clearly seen in vessels A and B; water in vessel
B is more transparent than in vessel A and other vessels

used as food by many other aquatic animals, including RESPONSE OF THE ENTIRE SYSTEM
zoobenthos and bacteria. The “environmental tax” is OF WATER SELF-PURIFICATION TO EXTERNAL
surprisingly high as compared with the share of C of the (ANTHROPOGENIC) IMPACTS
organic matter included in production. In some cases, it ON THE WATER BODY
can be >100%, when calculated as the ratio of the
amount of C not assimilated from the food (that is, The author has found an essential element of lability
C from fecal and pseudofecal pellets) to the amount of in one of the processes involved in water self-purifica-
C consumed for production. tion, i.e., water filtration by aquatic animals (mollusks
and rotifers) [10–23, 30–33]. Water filtration was inhib-
The formation of pseudofeces by mollusks–filterers ited in experiments by sublethal concentrations of
(that is, the process in which part of the filtered seston anthropogenic pollutants, such as surfactants, surfac-
does not pass through the digestive tract of the mollusk tant-containing mixed preparations, and heavy metals
but is prepared to the release into the environment in the (Tables 5–7). Other pollutants were found to have similar
form of pellets) begins at low seston concentration. effect on mollusks and zooplanktonic filterers [22, 28].
Thus, at the concentration of seston as low as 2.6 mg/l The population biomass of filterers in polluted
(the concentration of seston is commonly much aquatic ecosystems decreases, the result of which is an
greater), mollusks Mytilus edulis (shell size of 1.7 cm) additional drop in the total filtration activity in such
started releasing pseudofecal pellets [22]. Therefore, ecosystems [22].
the formation of pseudofeces is not the result of exces-
sive concentration of organic matter in the aquatic envi- Therefore, the system of water self-purification pro-
ronment. cesses and its quality formation is labile [12, 21, 22]
and quickly rearranges to adjust to changes in the envi-
The high “environmental tax” is justified because ronment. The obtained data demonstrate the hazard of
the filterers will eventually benefit from the high level a decrease in the efficiency of water self-purification
of stability of water quality characteristics. The entire system in aquatic ecosystems subject to anthropogenic
system of water self-purification also benefits from this, impacts (chemical pollution of water bodies and
because it requires the wide diversity of aquatic species streams) [10–14, 17–23, 30–33].
to maintain its stability.
Aquatic ecosystems serve as one of the most impor- RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THIS THEORY
tant regulators of global geochemical cycles (e.g., of AND FUNDAMENTAL ECOLOGICAL CONCEPTS
water and C), the stability of which withstands the haz-
ard of global disturbances. Therefore, the reliability of An important principle in the organization of eco-
water self-purification system is of importance for the systems is the interdependence and mutual usefulness
global stability in the biosphere [19]. of the organisms involved. This principle is confirmed

WATER RESOURCES Vol. 32 No. 3 2005

Table 6. Effect of surfactant-containing mixture (OMO, 50 mg/l) on the withdrawal of suspension of unicellular organisms
from water through inhibition of the filtration activity of Unio tumidus. Vessel A contains 10 mollusks with a mean weight
(wet weight with the shell) of 19.16 g and a total biomass of 192 g. Vessel B contains 10 mollusks with a mean weight (wet
weight with the shell) of 19.0 g and a total biomass of 190 g. The mollusks were collected in the Moskva R. (Odintsovo dis-
trict). Vessels C and D contain no mollusks. Water volume in each vessel is 500 ml. T = 19.5°C. Suspension of S. cerevisiae
was added to both vessels
Optical density at 500 nm (optical path of 10 mm)
Time from
the begin- solution solution
without without
ning of the of OMO of OMO Comment (visual observations)
experi- was added was added
ment, min
5 0.711 0.794 0.693 0.671 89.55 No visual distinctions between vessels
20 0.644 0.556 0.702 0.671 115.83 Pellet lumps appear in vessel B; water in this vessel be-
comes more transparent than in all other vessels; vessel A
does not contain pellets
35 0.614 0.448 0.648 0.660 137.05 Pellets are clearly seen in vessel B, water is more trans-
parent than in any other vessel
60 0.557 0.373 0.655 0.629 149.33 The same
165 – – – – – Pellet lumps are also seen in vessel A, though not for all
mollusks and with a lesser extent than in vessel B

so often that it has almost become an axiom and does chemical elements from one phase into another (inter-
not attract particular attention. However, its signifi- phase transfer) and from one organism into another
cance manifests itself in a new way in the analysis of (organism-to-organism transfers) take place in aquatic
water self-purification processes in aquatic ecosystems. ecosystems [18]. The author emphasized that the regu-
The cooperative functioning of procaryiote communi- lation of many processes of transfer of chemical ele-
ties is one example. Another example is the high activ- ments in aquatic ecosystems is biologically controlled,
ity of filterers for removing suspension from water, dur-
and the roles of both components—biotic and abiotic—
ing which the amount of suspended organic matter
extracted from water is much greater than it is required are equally important.
for the filterer’s organism [1, 21, 22]. The environmen-
tal significance of suspension removal from water and Table 7. Effect of various pollutants on suspension with-
pellet formation is analyzed in detail in [22]. The drawal from water by filterers [21, 22]. (The maximum value
assimilability of food by filterers in laboratory experi- of EEF for the entire period of experiment is given. LD is liq-
ments was ~50–60% [8], however it can be much lower uid detergent, SDS is sodium dodecyl sulfate, TDTMA is tet-
in nature. Thus, mollusks Mytilus galloprovincialis radecyl trimethyl ammonium bromide, TMOC trimethylt-
(with a biomass of 2 g) featured the assimilability that inchloride)
varied within the year from 4.8 to 51% [22], that is, in
some cases >95% of filtered out material was released Concentration,
Substance Organism
by the mussels in the form of pellets. mg/l

Thus, the synecological cooperation is one of the TX-100 Unio tumidus 5
functional principles of the biotic system of water self- TDTMA Crassostrea gigas 0.5
purification. SDS M. edulis >1
Purification of aquatic ecosystems is accompanied M. galloprovincialis
by transfer of chemical substances and their constitu- The same C. gigas 0.5
ents from one point of the aquatic ecosystem into Copper sulfate M. galloprovincialis 2
another. The results of data analysis support the earlier Lead nitrate M. galloprovincialis 20
formulated proposition that “a competitive unity of
vector and stochastic motion of chemical elements and LD E C. gigas 2
the regulation of these processes based on biological LD Fairy C. gigas 2
matter exists in aquatic ecosystems” [18]. Confirma- TMOC Dreissena polymorpha 0.01–10
tions were also obtained for the assumption that “com- TDTMA Brachionus angularis 0.5
petitive unity and biological-matter-controlled regula-
tion of cyclic and noncyclic paths of chemical ele- The same B. plicatilis 0.5
ments, representing chains of successive transitions of The same B. calyciflorus 0.5

WATER RESOURCES Vol. 32 No. 3 2005

CONCLUSIONS This study was partially supported by the Macarthur
When improving the methods and processes of Foundation, and Open Society Institute.
wastewater treatment and the methods and processes of
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