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Water Chemistry and Smallmouth Bass Biological Data From the Potomac River, Dargan, Maryland, 2013-2019

November 25, 2022

Decades of poor reproductive success and young-of-the-year recruitment, in addition to adult mortality, has led to a decline in the smallmouth bass (SMB) population in subwatersheds of the Potomac River. Previous studies have identified numerous biologic and environmental stressors associated with negative effects on SMB health. To better understand the impact of these stressors, the current study was conducted from 2013-2019 to identify temporal changes associated with SMB reproductive health. Grab surface water samples were collected and analyzed for over 300 organic contaminants, including pesticides, phytoestrogens, pharmaceuticals, hormones and total estrogenicity (E2Eq). Adult SMB were collected and sampled for multiple endpoints, including gene transcripts associated with reproduction (molecular), histopathology (cellular), and organosomatic indices (tissue). In males, biomarkers of estrogenic endocrine disruption, including testicular oocytes (TO) and plasma vitellogenin (Vtg) were assessed. The results identified numerous agriculture-related contaminants or land use associated with gene transcripts in males and females and a positive association of pesticides in the immediate catchment with TO severity and E2Eq with plasma Vtg in males. Prevalence of TO and detectable levels of plasma Vtg, liver vitellogenin transcripts (vtg) and testis vtg were high throughout the study. Peaks of complex mixtures of numerous contaminants occurred during the spring/early summer when early development occurs and to a lesser extent in fall/winter during recrudescence. Management practices to reduce exposure during these critical and sensitive periods may enhance reproductive health of economically important sportfishes.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Water Chemistry and Smallmouth Bass Biological Data From the Potomac River, Dargan, Maryland, 2013-2019
DOI 10.5066/P9XZ7UWK
Authors Heather L Walsh, Stephanie E Gordon, Adam J Sperry, Michael Kashiwagi, John Mullican, Vicki Blazer
Product Type Data Release
Record Source USGS Digital Object Identifier Catalog
USGS Organization Eastern Ecological Science Center