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Water- and sediment-quality effects on Pimephales promelas spawning vary along an agriculture-to-urban land-use gradient

January 1, 2011

Many streams in the U.S. are “impaired” due to anthropogenic influence. For watershed managers to achieve practical understanding of these impairments, a multitude of factors must be considered, including point and nonpoint-source influence on water quality. A spawning assay was developed in this study to evaluate water- and sediment-quality effects that influenced Pimephales promelas (fathead minnow) egg production over a gradient of urban and agricultural land use in 27 small watersheds in Eastern Wisconsin. Six pairs of reproducing fathead minnows were contained in separate mesh cartridges within one larger flow-through chamber. Water- and sediment quality were sampled for an array of parameters. Egg production was monitored for each pair providing an assessment of spawning success throughout the 21-day test periods. Incidences of low dissolved oxygen (DO) in many of these streams negatively impacted spawning success. Nine of 27 streams experienced DO less than 3.1 mg/L and 15 streams experienced DO less than 4.8 mg/L. Low DO was observed in urban and agricultural watersheds, but the upper threshold of minimum DO decreased with increasing urban development. An increase in specific conductance was related to a decrease in spawning success. In previous studies for streams in this region, specific conductance had a linear relation with chloride, suggesting the possibility that chloride could be a factor in egg production. Egg production was lower at sites with substantial urban development, but sites with low egg production were not limited to urban sites. Degradation of water- and sediment-quality parameters with increasing urban development is indicated for multiple parameters while patterns were not detected for others. Results from this study indicate that DO must be a high priority watershed management consideration for this region, specific conductance should be investigated further to determine the mechanism of the relation with egg production, and water- and sediment-quality degrade in relation to urban influence.

Publication Year 2011
Title Water- and sediment-quality effects on Pimephales promelas spawning vary along an agriculture-to-urban land-use gradient
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.08.014
Authors S.R. Corsi, R.D. Klaper, D.N. Weber, R.T. Bannerman
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Science of the Total Environment
Index ID 70034595
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse