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Standard environmental assessment procedures are designed to protect terrestrial and aquatic species. However, it is not known if endangered species are adequately protected by these procedures. At present, toxicological data obtained from studies with surrogate test fishes are assumed to be applicable to endangered fish species, but this assumption has not been validated. Static acute toxicity tests were used to compare the sensitivity of rainbow trout, fathead minnows, and sheepshead minnows to several federally listed fishes (Apache trout, Lahontan cutthroat trout, greenback cutthroat trout, bonytail chub, Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker, Leon Springs pupfish, and desert pupfish). Chemicals tested included carbaryl, copper, 4-nonylphenol, pentachlorophenol, and permethrin. Results indicated that the surrogates and listed species were of similar sensitivity. In two cases, a listed species had a 96-h LC50 (lethal concentration to 50% of the population) that was less than one half of its corresponding surrogate. In all other cases, differences between listed and surrogate species were less than twofold. A safety factor of two would provide a conservative estimate for listed cold-water, warm-water, and euryhaline fish species.
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Contaminant sensitivity of threatened and endangered fishes compared to standard surrogate species