Persistent environmental contaminants in fish and wildlife

Edited by:
Edward T. LaRoe , Gaye S. Farris , Catherine E. Puckett , Peter D. Doran , and Michael J. Mac



The publication of Silent Spring (Carson 1962) highlighted the potential for dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (DDT) and other pesticides that persist in the environment to accumulate in and to harm fish, wildlife, and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The federal government responded in the mid-1960's by establishing a multi-agency program to monitor the concentrations of pesticides and, later, other long-lived toxic contaminants in all segments of the environment.   

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) participated in this program by periodically measuring contaminant concentrations in freshwater fish and birds (Johnson et al. 1967). Fish were selected for monitoring aquatic ecosystems because of their tendency to accumulate pesticides and other contaminants. The European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) was selected for monitoring contaminant levels in terrestrial habitats because of its varied diet and wide geographic distribution. Following a successful pilot study (Heath and Prouty 1967), the wings of hunter-killed ducks were used to monitor contaminants in duck populations of the major flyways, and thereby to also provide an assessment of contaminant levels in wetlands. The USFWS maintained this National Contaminant Biomonitoring Program into the 1980's, with the objective of continuing the documentation of temporal and geographic trends in contaminant concentrations (Prouty and Bunck 1986; Bunck et al. 1987; Schmitt and Brumbaugh 1990; Schmitt et al. 1990).

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Book chapter
Publication Subtype:
Book Chapter
Persistent environmental contaminants in fish and wildlife
Year Published:
National Biological Service
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s):
Columbia Environmental Research Center, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
4 p.
Larger Work Type:
Larger Work Subtype:
Larger Work Title:
Our living resources: A report to the nation on the distribution, abundance, and health of U.S. plants, animals, and ecosystems
First page:
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