Fishes were collected at 16 sites within the three major river drainages (Delaware, Susquehanna, and Ohio) of Pennsylvania. Three species were evaluated for biomarkers of estrogenic/antiandrogenic exposure, including plasma vitellogenin and testicular oocytes in male fishes. Smallmouth bass Micropterus dolomieu, white sucker Catostomus commersonii, and redhorse sucker Moxostoma species were collected in the summer, a period of low flow and low reproductive activity. Smallmouth bass were the only species in which testicular oocytes were observed; however, measurable concentrations of plasma vitellogenin were found in male bass and white sucker. The percentage of male bass with testicular oocytes ranged from 10 to 100 %, with the highest prevalence and severity in bass collected in the Susquehanna drainage. The percentage of males with plasma vitellogenin ranged from 0 to 100 % in both bass and sucker. Biological findings were compared with chemical analyses of discrete water samples collected at the time of fish collections. Estrone concentrations correlated with testicular oocytes prevalence and severity and with the percentage of male bass with vitellogenin. No correlations were noted with the percentage of male sucker with vitellogenin and water chemical concentrations. The prevalence and severity of testicular oocytes in bass also correlated with the percent of agricultural land use in the watershed above a site. Two sites within the Susquehanna drainage and one in the Delaware were immediately downstream of wastewater treatment plants to compare results with upstream fish. The percentage of male bass with testicular oocytes was not consistently higher downstream; however, severity did tend to increase downstream.
Additional publication details
Reproductive health indicators of fishes from Pennsylvania watersheds: association with chemicals of emerging concern