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National Park Service POPs and Air Toxics Workshop. Contaminants in Fish and Wildlife. Themes. Why care about air toxics ? Potential sentinel species Trends from the Arctic Research gaps. Why Care about Air Toxics ?. Biological Effects Subsistence. Why Care ? - Biological Effects.

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National Park Service POPs and Air Toxics Workshop

Contaminants in Fish and Wildlife


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Themes

  • Why care about air toxics ?

  • Potential sentinel species

  • Trends from the Arctic

  • Research gaps


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Why Care about Air Toxics ?

  • Biological Effects

  • Subsistence


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Why Care ? - Biological Effects

  • Survival

  • Reproductive success

  • Growth

  • Development

  • Immunology/disease

  • Behavior


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What to Measure ?

  • Chemical residues

    • Whole body, eggs

    • Feathers, fur, scat

    • Select tissues (liver, kidney, fat, flesh)

  • Biomarkers of exposure/effect

    • Cytochrome P450 (PCBs, PAHs)

    • HII4E (dioxins, furans, coplanar PCBs)

    • Reproductive hormones

    • Vitamins


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What Species ?

Biomagnification

Daphnia Photo: Paul Hebert, U. Guelph


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Factors Affecting Bioaccumulation

  • Metabolism and selective retention of different chemicals

  • Marine vs. terrestrial food webs

  • Within a species, trophic level can differ with age and location

  • Stable isotope analysis (e.g., 15N/14N)


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Trophic Level vs. DDT Concentration

Source: AMAP Assessment Report


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Trophic Level vs. PCB Concentration

Source: AMAP Assessment Report


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Why Care ? - Subsistence

  • Important issue in AK

  • Concern about contaminants in food

  • Some people abandoning traditional foods

  • Unhealthy alternatives, expense getting food to villages

  • If NPS monitors biota in AK, issue will likely come up !


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Subsistence Use Patterns

  • Depend upon local availability

  • Cultural and traditional uses

  • Contaminants concentrations differ:

    • Berries, plants

    • Fish

    • Birds

    • Terrestrial Mammals

    • Marine Mammals


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Characteristics of an Ideal Species?

  • Widespread/ubiquitous distribution, found in all Parks

  • Sessile or limited range (non-migratory)

  • Likely to accumulate contaminants

  • Sensitive to contaminant effects

  • Easy to sample, won’t impact population

  • Ecologically important

  • Used for subsistence


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Potential Sentinel Species

  • Invertebrates

  • Freshwater fish

  • Anadromous fish (salmon)

  • Marine fish

  • Sea birds

  • Loons

  • Raptors

  • Riverine/semi-aquatic mammal

  • Large terrestrial mammals

  • Marine mammals


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Invertebrates

  • Zooplankton - ubiquitous, marine and freshwater, important food items, contaminants not well studied, low trophic level, trace level contaminants work

  • Benthic insects - ubiquitous, contaminants not well studied, food items, different trophic groups, stream drift

  • Mussels - sessile, filter feeder, important food items, also useful for PAHs, extensive database, limited to marine systems


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Char and Trout

  • Most freshwater, some anadromous

  • At least one species found in all Parks, but no single species ubiquitous

  • Important for sport, subsistence and ecologically

  • Trophic position varies with size, species, habitat

  • Top predator in many freshwater systems

  • Canadian data variable (food web, lake size)

  • Circumpolar data for Arctic char (AMAP species)

  • Lake trout data also abundant


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Northern Pike

  • Freshwater predators

  • Extensive database in Canada and parts of U.S.

  • Mercury often elevated in pike (good biomonitor for mercury), but OC’s typically low in pike fillets

  • Common in some AK Parks, but not found in many Western NPS units

USGS Photo


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Anadromous Fish

  • Salmon (also some trout and whitefish)

  • Important ecologically and for subsistence, sport and commercial value

  • Source of marine nutrients and contaminants (biological transport)

  • Not found in all Parks

  • Contaminant accumulation and sources outside Park boundaries

  • Whole fish, fillets, liver, kidney


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Marine Fish

  • Marine bottom-dwelling and/or predatory fish

  • Baseline data exists, particularly from contaminated areas

  • Fish from contaminated harbors show lesions, tumors, PAHs in fish bile, elevated body burdens, etc.

  • Limited to marine systems

NOAA Photo


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Seabirds

  • Wide geographic distribution (i.e., gulls, cormorants)

  • Eggs, feathers easy to collect

  • Wide range of trophic/feeding guilds

  • Subsistence food for some communities

  • Extensive database (gulls, cormorants, some others)

  • Known effects (e.g., cormorants)

  • Migratory


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Loons

  • Wide geographic distribution

  • Eat fish, accumulate contaminants

  • Extensive database for metals (lead, mercury)

  • Eggs, blood (metals), feathers (mercury)

  • Migratory


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Raptors

  • Feed high in food web

  • Bald eagle, osprey, falcons

  • Known effects (eggshell thinning)

  • Wide geographic distribution, but rare in many areas

  • Often migratory, peregrine falcons highly migratory

Eggs easy to collect, feathers for mercury, chick blood reflects local conditions


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Riverine/Semi-aquatic Mammals

  • River otters, mink

  • Toxicological benchmarks for mink, sensitive to PCBs

  • Pacific NW otters – reduced size of bacculum, testes

  • Wide distribution, but not abundant in many Parks

  • Organs (liver, kidney)

  • Mercury sampling - fur

  • Canadians – otter scat

  • Blood sampling ?

USGS-BRD Photo


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Large Terrestrial Mammals

Caribou, moose, elk found in many Parks

Important for subsistence

Charismatic mega-fauna

No single species found in all Parks

Herbivores (lower trophic position)

Caribou often highly migratory

Liver, kidney, meat

Metals (e.g., cadmium) elevated in kidney


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Marine Mammals

  • Polar Bear – top Arctic predator, extensive circumpolar database, known biological effects, limited distribution

  • Belugas - well studied, accumulates contaminants, limited range

  • Bowhead whales – growing database, feed on krill/plankton, limited range, migratory

NOAA Photo (modified)


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Seals

  • Ringed seals– primary polar bear prey, important for subsistence, limited range

  • Harbor seals– extensive range but not used much for subsistence, existing database


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Orcas

  • Long-lived species

  • Resident populations (feed on salmon) vs. transient populations (marine mammal prey)

  • One of most heavily contaminated species known

  • Ecological importance

  • Blubber samples less invasive

  • Limited to marine systems


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Recommendations ?

  • First must agree on some “basics”

    • Common species/group across all Parks vs. high priority species within each individual Park ?

    • Focus on non-migratory species ?

    • Subsistence implications important ?

    • Trend monitoring important ?

    • What level of expertise required to do sampling (e.g., eggs or feathers vs. blood samples)


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Some Possible Choices: Ecological

  • Mussels (good for coastal environment)

  • Resident predatory freshwater fish (e.g. char or trout, possibly Northern Pike)

  • Mink or river otters

  • Raptors, seabirds or loons (eggs, feathers)


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Some Possible Choices: Subsistence

  • Need to consider local uses, what is important in your area ?

  • Salmon

  • Resident fish

  • Marine Mammals

  • Large terrestrial game animals

  • Migratory waterfowl

  • Bird eggs


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Trends

  • Peregrine Falcons from Alaska

  • Otters and Pike from Sweden

  • Canadian Ringed Seals


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Trends- AK Peregrine Falcons

  • Peregrine falcon study (’79-’95)

  • Egg samples from two sub-species (North Slope, Interior AK)

  • Metals and OCs

  • Temporal trends


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Trends – AK Peregrine Falcons

  • Most OCs, including DDE, decreased with time

  • PCBs declined less rapidly than other OCs


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Trends - AK Peregrine Eggs

  • Most metals decreased or did not change, except mercury, which may have increased (at least in one sub-species)

  • Mercury concentrations in some cases approach levels which may impair reproduction


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Trends - European Otters (Muscle)

Source: AMAP Assessment Report


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Trends – Canadian Ringed Seals

Blubber from female seals

Source: AMAP Assessment Report


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Trends – Canadian Ringed Seals

Mercury in liver tissue (ug/g)

Source: AMAP Assessment Report


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Trends – Swedish Pike

Lake Storvindeln, Sweden

Source: Swedish Environmental Protection Agency


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Research Needs

  • Toxicological thresholds for various species (and various chemicals)

  • Implications of chronic non-lethal exposure

  • Chemical mixtures (always present)

  • “New” chemicals such as brominated flame retardants, perflurinated compounds (Scotchgard), etc.

  • Communicating results to the public and managers in a way that is easy to understand, informative, accurate


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Summary

  • Monitoring biota for contaminants can be important for a variety of reasons (ecosystem integrity, species health, subsistence, track temporal change)

  • Various biota and endpoints have different strengths/weaknesses

  • No one single species is ideal for all purposes

  • Goals must be clearly articulated

  • Many outstanding research needs exist



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