Scope for growth (SfG) is a measure of the energy balance of an animal (i.e., the difference between energy intake and metabolic output). The SfG of marine invertebrates, particularly the mussel Mytilus edulis, has been successfully used as the basis of a field bioassay to detect a range of stresses both natural (temperature, food, salinity) and anthropogenic (hydrocarbons, sewage sludge). SfG of the freshwater amphipod Gammarus pulex was found to be a sensitive indicator of stress under laboratory conditions and here we describe the field deployment of this technique and present data from three field trials. In every case, SfG was reduced at the downstream polluted site compared with that at an upstream reference site. This reduction in SfG was the result of a decrease in energy intake (absorption) rather than an increase in energy expenditure (respiration).
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We thank Lesley Pindar and Paul Eady for technical assistance, Pete Jackson for designing and making the cages and Manuel Graca for use of unpublished data. This work was supported by the Water Research Centre (Contract CS4323RX).