Behavioral avoidance of metal mixtures by rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) was determined in the laboratory under water quality conditions that simulated the upper Clark Fork River, Montana, USA. A metal mixture with a fixed ratio of observed ambient metal concentrations (12 mg/L Cu: 1.1 ??g/L Cd:3.2 ??g/L Pb:50 ??g/L Zn) was used to determine avoidance in a countercurrent avoidance chamber. Rainbow trout avoided all metal concentrations tested from 10 to 1,000% of the simulated ambient metal mixture. The behavioral response of rainbow trout to the metal mixture was more sensitive than the response of brown trout (Salmo trutta) previously reported from the same laboratory under the same experimental conditions. Additionally, rainbow trout that were acclimated to the simulated ambient metal mixture for 45 d preferred clean water and avoided higher metal concentrations. Therefore, our laboratory experiments on the behavioral avoidance responses of rainbow trout, as well as previously reported experiments on brown trout, show that both species will avoid typical metal concentrations observed on the Clark Fork River. And the greater sensitivity of rainbow trout to the metal mixture may explain, in part, why rainbow trout populations appear to be more severely affected, compared to brown trout populations; in the upper Clark Fork River.
Additional publication details
Behavioral avoidance: Possible mechanism for explaining abundance and distribution of trout species in a metal-impacted river