Tolerance of developing salmonid eggs and fry to nitrate exposure

Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
By: , and 



This paper reports on tests which show significant effects on early salmonid life stages of nitrates at levels commonly found in groundwaters in geographical areas that are influenced by fertilizer application. It has long been known, from fish cultural experience, that in certain site specific locations, chronic problems can be expected with salmonid egg development and early fry mortality. However, fingerlings which survive usually grow normally. A complete explanation is lacking although several environmental factors have been proposed to account for this phenomenon. One, which has so far received little attention, is that nitrate levels in the ground and surface waters of many areas have been increasing significantly over historical background levels. Ammonia, urea, and other potential sources of nitrate can enter natural waters from a variety of sources, such as domestic or industrial sewage, animal feedlots, or seepage and return flows from agricultural lands. The latter may be the largest contributor, since billions of tons of nitrate fertilizers are applied to agricultural crops on a worldwide basis each year. In addition, intensive forest management techniques include the aerial application of nitrate fertilizer to increase the yield of wood products, while range management practices call for use of nitrates to increase forage production. The nitrate that is not taken up by plants ultimately appears in ground or surface waters.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Tolerance of developing salmonid eggs and fry to nitrate exposure
Series title Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
DOI 10.1007/BF01770006
Volume 23
Issue 1
Year Published 1979
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Western Fisheries Research Center
Description 4 p.
First page 575
Last page 578
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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