A spatially and temporally explicit model for determining the exposure of juvenile salmon to agricultural pesticides in freshwater



In this paper, we present a novel approach for determining the probable co-occurrence of juvenile salmon or steelhead with agricultural pesticides and apply it to spring Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) salmon in the Willamette Basin, Oregon. We adapted a published exposure analysis framework by explicitly considering fish migration among habitat units and assuming that habitat use is proportional to habitat quality. Temporal variability in habitat use was accounted for via biweekly time steps over the entire period when a single brood was expected to spawn until the last juvenile migrated to sea. Spatial variability was accounted for at the watershed and reach scale. Exposure to 6 acetylcholinesterase-inhibiting insecticides at any life stage was expressed in terms of the future adults (adult-equivalents; AEQ). Several datasets were available to inform our framework with input values on extent of spring Chinook fish use, habitat quality preferred by juvenile spring Chinook, choice of juvenile life-history pathways, timing of emergence, and timing of migration either in-stream or to sea. We used insecticide concentration profiles constructed from available monitoring data to demonstrate the effect of accounting for variation in space and time on predicted exposure to chemical residues. In contrast to the assumption commonly used in screening-level risk assessments that the entire population in a watershed is exposed, available data applied to our model framework indicate that a small fraction of AEQ juveniles in the Willamette Basin would co-occur with detectable concentrations of the 6 insecticides. Overall, our results indicated that the use of a spatially and temporally explicit framework yields a better understanding of the proportion of organisms potentially impacted by agricultural pesticides. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2012; 8: 271–284. © 2011 SETAC