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Ratio of mercury concentration to PCB concentration varies with sex of white sucker (Catostomus commersonii)

August 27, 2018

The whole-fish total mercury (Hg) concentrations were determined in 25 mature female and 26 mature male white suckers (Catostomus commersonii) caught during their spawning run in the Kewaunee River, a tributary to Lake Michigan. The age of each fish was estimated using thin-sectioned otoliths, and total length (TL) and weight were determined for each fish. When adjusted for the effect of age, males were found to be 7% higher in Hg concentration than females. Nearly all (about 98%) of the Hg found in the white suckers was determined to be methylmercury. In an earlier study on the same 51 white suckers from the Kewaunee River spawning run, males were found to be 18% higher than females in polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) concentration. We determined that the ratio of Hg concentration to PCB concentration in females was significantly higher than that in males. Thus, sex significantly interacted with contaminant type (Hg or PCBs) in determining contaminant concentrations. The most plausible explanation for this interaction was that males eliminated Hg at a faster rate than females, most likely due to the boosting of the Hg-elimination rate by certain androgens such as testosterone and 11-ketotestosterone. Hg concentrations in the white suckers were well below federal guidelines for fish consumption.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2018
Title Ratio of mercury concentration to PCB concentration varies with sex of white sucker (Catostomus commersonii)
DOI 10.3390/environments5090094
Authors Charles P. Madenjian, Andrew L. Stevens, Martin A. Stapanian, David P. Krabbenhoft, John F. DeWild, Jacob M. Ogorek, William H. Edwards, Lynn M. Ogilvie, Peter B. McIntyre
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environments
Series Number
Index ID 70198899
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center