Environmental context and contaminant biotransport by Pacific salmon interact to mediate the bioaccumulation of contaminants by stream-resident fish

Gerig, Brandon S. and Chaloner, Dominic T. and Janetski, David J. and Moerke, Ashley H. and Rediske, Richard R. and O’Keefe, James P. and de Alwis Pitts, Dilkushi and Lamberti, Gary A. (2018) Environmental context and contaminant biotransport by Pacific salmon interact to mediate the bioaccumulation of contaminants by stream-resident fish. Journal of Applied Ecology . ISSN 0021-8901

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Abstract

1. The extent to which environmental context mediates the uptake of biotransported contaminants by stream-resident organisms is not understood. For example, there is no clear understanding of the extent to which contaminant type, instream characteristics, or resident fish identity interact to influence the uptake of contaminants deposited by Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) during their spawning runs.
2. To address this uncertainty, we sampled four stream-resident fish species from 13 watersheds of the Laurentian Great Lakes in locations with and without salmon across a gradient of instream and watershed characteristics. We determined the polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) and mercury (Hg) concentration along with the stable isotope ratio of C and N for each stream-resident fish.
3. We found that stream-resident fish PCB concentrations were 24-fold higher in reaches with salmon and were positively related to δ15N. In contrast, stream-resident fish Hg concentrations were similar or lower in reaches with salmon and either exhibited a negative or no relationship with δ15N.
4. Based upon AICc, stream-resident fish exhibited species-specific PCB concentrations that were positively related to salmon PCB flux. Hg burdens exhibited an interaction between fish length and salmon Hg flux – as salmon Hg inputs increased, Hg levels decreased with increasing resident fish length. We found no support for models that included the mediating influence of instream or watershed factors. Salmon eggs are enriched in PCBs but have very low Hg concentrations, so our results may be driven by the consumption of salmon eggs by stream-resident fish.
5. Synthesis and applications. Our results highlight that contaminants bioaccumulate differently depending on contaminant type, species identity, and the trophic pathway to contamination. Consequently, consideration of the recipient food web and route of exposure is critical to understanding the fate of biotransported contaminants in ecosystems. The transfer of contaminants by migratory organisms represents an understudied stressor in ecology. Effective management of biotransported contaminants will require the delineation of “hot-spots” of biotransport and implementation of best management practices in those watersheds that receive contaminants from spawning salmon.

Keywords:contaminant biotransport, Pacific salmon
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C110 Applied Biology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Geography
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ID Code:30027
Deposited On:15 Dec 2017 16:23

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