Davis Pond Freshwater Prediversion Biomonitoring Study: Freshwater Fisheries and Eagles

Scientific Investigations Report 2008-5067

Prepared in cooperation with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
, ,



In January 2001, the construction of the Davis Pond freshwater diversion structure was completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The diversion of freshwater from the Mississippi River is intended to mitigate saltwater intrusion from the Gulf of Mexico and to lessen the concomitant loss of wetland areas. In addition to the freshwater inflow, Barataria Bay basin would receive nutrients, increased flows of sediments, and water-borne and sediment-bound compounds. The purpose of this biomonitoring study was, therefore, to serve as a baseline for prediversion concentrations of selected contaminants in bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nestlings (hereafter referred to as eaglets), representative freshwater fish, and bivalves. Samples were collected from January through June 2001. Two similarly designed postdiversion studies, as described in the biological monitoring program, are planned. Active bald eagle nests targeted for sampling eaglet blood (n = 6) were generally located southwest and south of the diversion structure. The designated sites for aquatic animal sampling were at Lake Salvador, at Lake Cataouatche, at Bayou Couba, and along the Mississippi River. Aquatic animals representative of eagle prey were collected. Fish were from three different trophic levels and have varying feeding strategies and life histories. These included herbivorous striped mullet (Mugil cephalus), omnivorous blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus), and carnivorous largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides). Three individuals per species were collected at each of the four sampling sites. Freshwater Atlantic rangia clams (Rangia cuneata) were collected at the downstream marsh sites, and zebra mussels (Dreissena spp.) were collected on the Mississippi River. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Biomonitoring of Environmental Status and Trends (BEST) protocols served as guides for fish sampling and health assessments. Fish are useful for monitoring aquatic ecosystems because they accumulate pesticides and other contaminants. Biomarker data on individual fish, generated at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center (Lafayette, La.), included percent white blood cells in whole blood, spleen weight to body weight ratio, liver weight to body weight ratio, condition factor, splenic macrophage aggregates, and liver microsomal 7-ethoxyresorufin-o-deethylase (EROD) activity. Fish age was estimated by comparing total lengths with values from the same species in the Southeast United States as determined from the literature. Contaminant analyses were coordinated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Analytical Control Facility (Laurel, Md.), where residues of organochlorine (OC) pesticides, total polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), aliphatic hydrocarbons (AHs), and trace elements were determined. The organic contaminant data were generated at the Mississippi State University Chemical Lab (Mississippi State, Miss.), and the inorganic contaminant data were generated by the Texas A&M University Geochemical and Environmental Research Group (College Station, Tex.). Statistical tests were performed to assess relationships among contaminants, fish age, fish species, and collection sites.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Davis Pond Freshwater Prediversion Biomonitoring Study: Freshwater Fisheries and Eagles
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
National Wetlands Research Center
vi, 102 p.
Time Range Start:
Time Range End:
Online Only (Y/N):