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Adult male walleye (Stizostedion vitreum) exhibited significantly higher polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) concentrations than similarly aged female walleye from Saginaw Bay (Lake Huron). To explain this difference, we tested the following three hypotheses: (i) females showed a considerably greater reduction in PCB concentration immediately following spawning than males, (ii) females grew at a faster rate and therefore exhibited lower PCB concentrations than males, and (iii) males spent more time in the Saginaw River system than females, and therefore received a greater exposure to PCBs. The first hypothesis was tested by comparing PCB concentration in gonadal tissue with whole-body concentration, the second hypothesis was tested via bioenergetics modeling, and we used mark-recapture data from the Saginaw Bay walleye fishery to address the third hypothesis. The only plausible explanation for the observed difference in PCB accumulation rate was that males spent substantially more time in the highly contaminated Saginaw River system than females, and therefore were exposed to greater environmental concentrations of PCBs. Based on the results of our study, we strongly recommend a stratified random sampling design for monitoring PCB concentration in Saginaw Bay walleye, with fixed numbers of females and males sampled each year.
Additional Publication Details
Sexual difference in polychlorinated biphenyl accumulation rates of walleye (Stizostedion vitreum)
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences