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American Dippers indicate contaminant biotransport by Pacific salmon

Morrissey, Christy A., Pollet, Ingrid L., Ormerod, Stephen James and Elliott, John E. 2012. American Dippers indicate contaminant biotransport by Pacific salmon. Environmental Science & Technology 46 (2) , pp. 1153-1162. 10.1021/es2028058

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Migrating salmon can increase productivity in Pacific Northwestern streams and lakes through the deposition of nutrients from their decomposing carcasses after spawning. Several studies also report simultaneous biotransport of persistent organic pollutants that have contaminated lake food webs, although no similar effect has been shown conclusively in rivers. We tested the prediction that salmon enhance contaminants in river food webs using the American dipper (Cinclus mexicanus), an aquatic songbird and a recognized indicator of stream quality. Over 3 years, we analyzed 29 dipper eggs and aquatic invertebrate samples from 14 different rivers in 10 catchments in southern British Columbia, Canada to assess whether variations in autumn spawning density of Pacific salmon were reflected in dipper egg contamination or stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes. δ13C isotope signatures, but not δ15N, in aquatic invertebrates and dipper eggs increased among catchments in proportion to the average density of spawning salmon. Concentrations of brominated flame retardants (PBDEs), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane metabolites (DDTs), and chlordane compounds were related in part to the δ13C measure of salmon density, but mercury, chlorobenzenes, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were explained better by dipper trophic level. We conclude that spawning Pacific salmon result in the increased availability of salmon fry as dipper prey and salmon are a significant source of PBDEs, DDTs, and chlordanes to river ecosystems. However, contrary to lake studies, postspawn concentrations of legacy PCBs in river birds, even in salmon-rich rivers, were not significantly higher than would be expected from atmospheric deposition alone. We recommend using δ13C isotopes to trace salmon-derived lipids which may persist over winter particularly in rivers, and are potentially a better reflection of lipophilic contaminant transfer.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > QR Microbiology
S Agriculture > SH Aquaculture. Fisheries. Angling
Publisher: ACS Publications
ISSN: 0013-936X
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 04:04

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