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The distribution of dissolved aluminum in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) rivers of Atlantic Canada and its potential effect on aquatic populations

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Studies from the 1980s concluded that aluminum (Al) was not a significant contributor to Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) toxicity in Nova Scotia, located on Canada’s Atlantic coast, because of the presence of dissolved organic matter that rendered ionic Al (Ali) biologically inaccessible. Since this earlier work, new interpretations of Ali effects, as well as improved techniques for its measurement, have been developed. However, no new data interpretation has been done to see if the conclusions reached in earlier work for Atlantic Canada were still valid. We sampled 97 salmon rivers from the provinces of New Brunswick (NB), Nova Scotia (NS), and the island of Newfoundland (NF) to determine total and Ali concentrations to see if results exceeded newer toxicity standards established by the European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission. We found that southwestern NS, the region with the greatest loss of salmon populations, has seven rivers where autumn Ali values exceed values identified as toxic to aquatic life. A further three rivers exceed guidelines in NF. Our work shows that the sources of toxicity for salmon and other aquatic species in acidified environments are more complex than previously thought.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Environment Canada, Water Science and Technology Directorate, 45 Alderney Drive, Dartmouth, NS B2Y 2N6, Canada.

Publication date: July 28, 2012

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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