Epidemiological criteria were used to examine the influence of environmental contamination on reproductive success of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Most of the information was obtained from lake trout eggs collected in southeastern Lake Michigan and reared in the laboratory. Two separate end points that measure reproductive success - egg hatchability and fry survival - were used in the evaluation. Strong evidence for maternally derived polychlorinated biphenyls causing reduced egg hatchability were observed for the time order, strength of association, and coherence criteria. Equally strong evidence for organic environmental contaminants, also of maternal origin, causing a swim-up fry mortality syndrome were presented for the strength of association, specificity, replication, and coherence criteria. The epidemiological approach for demonstrating cause-and-effect relations was useful because of the difficulty in demonstrating definite proof of causality between specific environmental contaminants and reproductive dysfunction in feral fish.
Additional publication details
Environmental contaminants and the reproductive success of lake trout in the Great Lakes: an epidemiological approach