Polychlorinated Biphenyl Bioaccumulation Patterns Among Lake Erie Lower Trophic Level Consumers Reflect Species Ecologies

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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) concentrations were quantified in lower trophic level consumers of the Lake Erie western basin food web to assess the capacity of PCBs to discriminate among trophically similar species inhabiting different compartments of the same ecosystem. Zooplankton were characterized by higher proportions of less chlorinated and hydrophobic homologs relative to zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha), mayfly (Hexagenia limbata) and emerald shiner (Notropis atherinoides) samples. PCB biota-sediment accumulation factors (BSAF) differed significantly among species with zebra mussels and emerald shiners having the highest BSAFs. Principal components analysis of sample PCB profiles reflected the contrasting pelagic and benthic habitats occupied by filter-feeding zooplankton and zebra mussel samples. Benthic mayfly PCB profiles were characterized by increasingly hydrophobic (logKOW ≥ 6.9) congeners with more variable emerald shiner profiles reflecting the greater mobility and extent of spatial habitat integration achieved by this secondary consumer. These results contribute to growing evidence for the use of PCBs as ecological tracers in aquatic ecosystems.

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Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology