Biomonitoring of Environmental Status and Trends (BEST) Program: Selected Methods for Monitoring Chemical Contaminants and their Effects in Aquatic Ecosystems

Information and Technology Report 2000-0005
By: , and 
Edited by: Christopher J. Schmitt and Gail M. Dethloff

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Abstract

This document describes the suite of biological methods of the U.S. Geological Survey- Biomonitoring of Environmental Status and Trends program for monitoring chemical contaminants and their effects on fish. The methods, which were selected by panels of experts, are being field-tested in rivers of the Mississippi River, Columbia River, and Rio Grande basins. General health biomarkers include a health assessment index based on gross observation; histopathological examination of selected organs and tissues; condition factor; and the heptosomatic and splenosomatic indices. Immune system indicators are plasma lysozyme activity and measures of splenic macrophage aggregates. Reproductive biomarkers include plasma concentrations of sex steroid hormones (17β-estradiol and 11-ketotestosterone) and vitellogenin, gonadal histopathology (including reproductive stage and, in females, gonadal atresia), and the gonadosomatic index. Indicators of exposure to polycyclic aromatic and polyhalogenated hydrocarbons are the H4IIE rat hepatoma cell bioassay (performed on solvent extracts of composite fish samples) and hepatic ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase activity. Stable nitrogen isotope ratios are used to assess the trophic position of the fish and their exposure to sewage and other animal wastes. For each indicator we describe endpoint(s) and methods, and discuss the indicator?s value and limitations for contaminant monitoring and assessment.

Suggested Citation

Schmitt, C. J. and G. M. Dethloff. editors. 2000. Biomonitoring of Environmental Status and Trends (BEST) Program: selected methods for monitoring chemical contaminants and their effects in aquatic ecosystems. U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Columbia, (MO): Information and Technology Report USGS/BRD-2000—0005. 81 pp.

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Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Preface
  • The 1995 and 1997 Best Projects
  • EROD Activity
  • H4IIE Bioassay
  • Condition Factor and Organo-Somatic Indices
  • The Necropsy-Based Fish Health Assessment
  • Histopathologic Assessment
  • Immune System Indicators
  • Reproductive Indicators
  • Stable Nitrogen Isotope Ratio
  • Appendix 1: Development of the Best Program
  • Acknowledgments
  • References

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Title Biomonitoring of Environmental Status and Trends (BEST) Program: Selected methods for monitoring chemical contaminants and their effects in aquatic ecosystems
Series title Information and Technology Report
Series number 2000-0005
Year Published 2000
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description vi, 81 p.
Country United States
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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