Most of the polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) body burden accumulated by lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) from the Laurentian Great Lakes is from their food. We used diet information, PCB determinations in both lake trout and their prey, and bioenergetics modeling to estimate the efficiency with which Lake Michigan lake trout retain PCBs from their food. Our estimates were the most reliable estimates to date because (a) the lake trout and prey fish sampled during our study were all from the same vicinity of the lake, (b) detailed measurements were made on the PCB concentrations of both lake trout and prey fish over wide ranges in fish size, and (c) lake trout diet was analyzed in detail over a wide range of lake trout size. Our estimates of net trophic transfer efficiency of PCBs to lake trout from their prey averaged from 0.73 to 0.89 for lake trout between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. There was no evidence of an upward or downward trend in our estimates of net trophic transfer efficiency for lake trout between the ages of 5 and 10 years old, and therefore this efficiency appeared to be constant over the duration of the lake trout's adult life in the lake. On the basis of our estimtes, lake trout retained 80% of the PCBs that are contained within their food.
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Estimate of net trophic transfer efficiency of PCBs to Lake Michigan lake trout from their prey