Ecological factors contributing to variability of persistent organic pollutant bioaccumulation within forage fish communities of the Detroit River, Ontario, Canada



Understanding variability of contaminant bioaccumulation within and among fish populations is critical for distinguishing between the chemical and biological mechanisms that contribute to food web biomagnification and quantifying contaminant exposure risks in aquatic ecosystems. The present study examined the relative contributions of chemical hydrophobicity (octanol–water partition coefficient [KOW]) and habitat use as factors regulating variability in polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congener bioaccumulation in 3 lower trophic level cyprinid species across spatial and temporal scales. Bluntnose minnows (Pimephales notatus), spottail shiners (Notropis hudsonius), and emerald shiners (Notropis atherinoides) were sampled at 3 locations in the Detroit River, Ontario, Canada. Variability in PCB concentration was evaluated with respect to several factors, including chemical hydrophobicity, site, season, species, and weight using sum of squares and Levene's test of homogeneity of variance. Individual variability in bioaccumulated congener-specific residues depended on chemical hydrophobicity with mid- and high-range KOW congeners (log KOW > 6.0), demonstrating the highest amount of variance compared with low KOW congeners. Different feeding strategies also contributed to the variance observed for mid-range KOW congeners among species. In the present study, benthic feeding specialists exhibited lower variance in PCB concentrations compared with the 2 generalist species. The results indicate that chemical hydrophobicity and feeding ecology not only contribute to differences in the biomagnification potentials of fish, but also regulate between-individual variation in PCB concentrations both across and within fish species. Environ Toxicol Chem 2014;33:1825–1831. © 2014 SETAC