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Declining aluminum toxicity and the role of exposure duration on brook trout mortality in acidified streams of the Adirondack Mountains, New York, USA

December 9, 2019

Mortality of brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis and water chemistry were characterized in 6 headwater streams in the western Adirondacks of New York during spring 2015, 2016, and 2017 and compared with results from analogous tests done between 1980 and 2003 in many of the same streams, to assess temporal changes in toxicity and inorganic monomeric aluminum (Ali) concentrations, and the role of Ali exposure duration on brook trout survival. The Ali concentrations of 2 and 4 µmol L–1 corresponded to low‐to‐moderate and high mortality thresholds, but prolonged exposure to ≥1 µmol Ali L–1 also produced mortality. The variability, mean, and highest Ali concentrations in Buck Creek year round, and in several other streams during spring, have decreased significantly over the past 3 decades. Logistic models indicate that Ali surpassed highly toxic concentrations in Buck Creek for 3 to 4 mo annually during 2001 to 2003 and for 2 to 3 wk annually during 2015 to 2017. The loss of extremely high Ali episodes indicates that toxicity has declined markedly between the 1989 to 1990, 2001 to 2003, and 2015 to 2017 test periods, yet Ali concentrations can still cause moderate‐to‐high and complete (100%) mortality. The logistic models illustrate how mortality of brook trout in several Adirondack streams likely decreased in response to the 1990 Amendments to the United States' Clean Air Act (which decreased acidity, Ali concentrations, and duration of toxic episodes) and offer a means to predict how changes in US regulations that limit emissions of NOx and SOx (and N and S deposition loads) could affect fish survival and stream ecosystems in this region and across the Northeast. 

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title Declining aluminum toxicity and the role of exposure duration on brook trout mortality in acidified streams of the Adirondack Mountains, New York, USA
DOI 10.1002/etc.4645
Authors Barry P. Baldigo, Scott George, Gregory B. Lawrence, Eric A. Paul
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Series Number
Index ID 70209005
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New York Water Science Center