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Female brown bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus) were collected from three Lake Erie tributaries (Ohio) from 8 to 25 May 1989, to determine the effects of contaminated sediments on reproductive potentials. Fish obtained from the Black and Cuyahoga rivers, which contain sediments with elevated concentrations of metals, PCBs, and PAHs, were compared with fish collected in Mud Brook, a tributary of the Huron River, which was selected as our reference site. Fecundity, egg diameter, fish length and weight, and the presence of external abnormalities were recorded for each fish. Brown bullhead from the contaminated sites were larger then those from the reference site and fecundity was significantly (P < 0.05) different in all three river systems. Those from the most polluted river (Cuyahoga River) had the greatest number of eggs per individual female. The high frequency of external abnormalities observed on brown bullhead from the contaminated sites did not appear to have a detrimental influence on fecundity. These results suggest that fecundity of the brown bullhead was not adversely affected in ecosystems altered by the presence of contaminated sediments. Increased fecundity of the brown bullhead from impacted rivers may be the result of reduced competition for an abundant invertebrate food source and limited predation by other fish species whose numbers are largely depleted in these degraded systems.
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The effect of contaminated sediments on fecundity of the brown bullhead in three Lake Erie tributaries