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Age structure and growth of Semotilus atromaculatus(Mitchill) in PCB‐contaminated streams

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Creek chub Semotilus atromaculatus from two PCB contaminated streams (Clear Creek and Richland Creek) at three locations and a reference stream (Little Indian Creek), Indiana, U.S.A., were examined to determine if age class structure and growth variables were correlated with in‐situ PCB exposure. Approximately five to 15 fish were captured weekly during the spring spawning season and monthly thereafter for a 12 month period. Fish collected ranged from 25 to 267 mm total length (LT). Throughout the course of this study, no spawning activity was observed at either location in Clear Creek, although some very small young‐of‐the‐year (YOY) creek chub fry were observed at the downstream location by late summer. Creek chub nests were observed in both Richland Creek and Little Indian Creek but YOY were common only in Little Indian Creek. Exposure to PCBs was shown to both enhance and decrease growth in varied laboratory tests; subtle but significant gender‐specific differences in the growth of creek chub populations between the sites were observed. Creek chub up to 24 months in age from Clear Creek and Richland Creek were significantly larger (both LT and mass for males and LT for females) than reference site creek chub. This trend was reversed for creek chub aged ≥24 months as the reference site fish were consistently larger with reference males weighing significantly more. Older age classes of creek chub were missing in areas of higher PCB contamination. Female population growth rates and individual instantaneous growth rates were consistently higher at the reference site in comparison to the PCB‐contaminated sites. Calculation of ‘functional b’(as a condition factor) did indicate that growth enhancement in young males did occur at the most contaminated site and reductions in growth (mass relative to LT) occurred in females from all contaminated sites. Furthermore, long‐term survivorship for females was reduced in the PCB‐contaminated streams. All of these subtle alterations in growth would not have been observed if males and females had not been analysed separately.

Keywords: PCBs; Semotilus atromaculatus; age structure; growth; sex differences

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Indiana University, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, U.S.A. and 2: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 620 S. Walker Street, Bloomington, Indiana 47403, U.S.A.

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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