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Copper-avoidance tests and acute-toxicity (mortality) tests on hatchery-reared, young-of- the-year brown trout (salmo trutta) were conducted with water from West Branch Reservoir to assess the avoidance response to copper sulfate treatment, which is used occasionally by New York City Department of Environmental Protection to decrease phytoplankton populations in the reservoir. Avoidance-test results indicate that juvenile brown trout tend to avoid dissolved copper concentrations greater than about 55 ?g/L (micrograms per liter), which is the approximate avoidance-response threshold. The mean net avoidance response of brown trout to dissolved copper concentrations of 70 and 100 ?g/L, and possibly 80 ?g/L, was significantly different (at a = 0.1) from the mean net avoidance response of fish to control (untreated) water and to treated water at most other tested concentrations. Mortality-test results indicate that the 96-hr median lethal concentration (LC50) of dissolved copper was 61.5 ?g/L. All (100 percent) of the brown trout died at a dissolved copper concentration of 85 ?g/L, many died at concentrations of 62 ?g/L and 70 ?g/L, and none died in the control waters (7 ?g/L) or at concentrations of 10, 20, or 45 ?g/L. The estimated concentration of dissolved copper that caused fish mortality (threshold) was 53.5 ?g/L, virtually equivalent to the avoidance-response threshold. Additional factors that could affect the copper-avoidance and mortality response of individual brown trout and their populations in West Branch Reservoir include seasonal variations in certain water-quality parameters, copper-treatment regimes, natural fish distributions during treatment, and increased tolerance due to acclimation. These warrant additional study before the findings from this study can be used to predict the effects that copper sulfate treatments have on resident fish populations in New York City reservoirs.
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Copper avoidance and mortality of juvenile brown trout (Salmo trutta) in tests with copper-sulfate-treated water from West Branch Reservoir, Putnam County, New York