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To investigate spatial and temporal patterns of organochlorine contamination in lake trout from Wisconsin waters of the Great Lakes, we examined laboratory contaminant analysis data of muscle tissue samples from Lake Michigan (n=317) and Lake Superior (n=53) fish. Concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlordane, and dieldrin, reported as mg/kg wet weight in 620 mm to 640 mm mean length Lake Michigan lake trout, decreased over time. Mean total PCB concentration declined exponentially from 9.7 in 1975 to 1.9 in 1990. Total chlordane concentration declined 63 percent from 0.48 in 1983 to 0.18 in 1990, and dieldrin declined 52 percent during this same period, from 0.21 to 0.10. The bioaccumulation rate of PCBs is significantly lower for lake trout inhabiting Lake Michigan's midlake reef complex, compared to lake trout from the nearshore waters of western Lake Michigan. Organochlorine compound concentrations were greater in Lake Michigan lake trout than Lake Superior fish. Lake Superior lean lake trout and siscowet exhibited similar rates of PCB bioaccumulation despite major differneces in muscle tissue lipid content between the two subspecies. The lack of a significant difference in the PCB bioaccumulation rates of lean trout and siscowet suggests that lipid content may not be an important factor influencing PCB bioaccumulation in lake trout, within the range of lipid concentrations observed. Relative concentrations of the various organochlorine contaminants found in lake trout were highly correlated, suggesting similar mass balance processes for these compounds. Evidence presented revealing spatial and temporal patterns of organochlorine contamination may be of value in reestablishing self-sustaining populations of lake trout in Lake Michigan.
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Patterns of organochlorine contamination in lake trout from Wisconsin waters of the Great Lakes