Relations between tissue trace element concentrations and species traits were examined for 45 fish species to determine the extent to which trait-based characteristics accounted for relative differences among species in trace element bioaccumulation. Percentages of fish species correctly classified by discriminant analysis according to traits predicted by tissue trace element concentrations ranged from 72% to 87%. Tissue concentrations of copper, mercury, selenium, and zinc appeared to have the greatest overall influence on differentiating species according to trait characteristics. Discrimination of trait characteristics did not appear to be strongly influenced by local sources of trace elements in the streambed sediment. Bioaccumulation was greatest for those species classified as primarily detritivores, having relatively large adult body size, considered nonmigratory with respect to reproductive strategy, occurring mostly in large or variable size streams and rivers, preferring depositional areas within the stream channel, and preferring benthic rather than open-water habitats. Our findings provide evidence of the strong relationship between bioaccumulation of environmental trace elements and trait-based factors that influence contaminant exposure. ?? 2008 NRC.