Contaminant biotransport by Pacific salmon to Lake Michigan tributaries

Gerig, B., Chaloner, D. T., Janetski, D. J., Rediske, R. R., Moerke, A. H., McNair, J., de Alwis Pitts, D. A. and Lamberti, G. A. (2015) Contaminant biotransport by Pacific salmon to Lake Michigan tributaries. In: 9th Biennial State of Lake Michigan/ 15th Annual Great Lakes Beach Association Joint Conference, 28 - 30 October 2015, Traverse City, Michigan.

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Abstract

The Great Lakes are ideal systems for evaluating the synergistic components of environmental change, such as exotic species introductions and legacy pollutants. Introduced Pacific Salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) represent an intersection of these drivers because they are non-native species of economic importance that bioaccumulate contaminants during the open water phase of their life cycle. Furthermore, Pacific salmon can deliver a significant pulse of contaminated tissue to tributaries during spawning and subsequent death. Thus, salmon represent a key pathway by which contaminants accumulated in Lake Michigan are transported inland to tributaries that otherwise lack point source pollution. Our research has revealed that salmon exhibit basin-specific persistent organic pollutant (POP) and mercury (Hg) concentrations reflecting pollutant inputs from both current and historic sources. Overall, Lake Michigan salmon were more contaminated with POPs and Hg than conspecifics from Lakes Huron or Superior. Consequently, Lake Michigan salmon pose a higher risk and magnitude of contaminant biotransport and transfer. Resident stream fish (e.g., brook trout) sampled from salmon spawning reaches had higher pollutant concentrations than fish sampled from upstream reaches lacking salmon, but the extent of fish contamination varied among lake basins and streams. In general, Lake Michigan tributaries were the most impacted, suggesting a direct relationship between the extent of salmon-derived contaminant inputs and resident fish contaminant levels. Within and among lake basins, contaminant biotransport by salmon is context dependent and likely reflects a suite of ecological characteristics such as species identity and trophic position, dynamics of the salmon run, watershed land-use, and instream geomorphology such as sediment size. We suggest that future management of salmon-mediated contaminant biotransport to stream communities in the Great Lakes basin should consider biological, chemical, and physical factors that constitute the environmental context.

Keywords:Pacific salmon, Contaminant Biotransport
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C910 Applied Biological Sciences
Divisions:College of Science > School of Geography
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ID Code:29669
Deposited On:20 Nov 2017 09:44

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