Biomonitoring of Environmental Status and Trends (BEST) Program: Environmental Contaminants and their Effects on Fish in the Rio Grande Basin

Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5108
By: , and 



We collected, examined, and analyzed 368 fish of seven species from 10 sites in the Rio Grande Basin (RGB) during late 1997 and early 1998. Four sites were National Contaminant Biomonitoring Program (NCBP) stations where organochlorine ad elemental contaminants in fish had been monitored from 1969 and through 1986. The other six were USGS-National Stream Quantity Accounting Network (NASQAN) stations where water quality is monitored. The objectives were to document temporal and geographic trends in the concentrations of accumulative organic and inorganic contaminants in RGB fish and the effects of contaminants on the fish; to continue testing the feasibility of incorporating biomarkers (that is, biochemical, histopathological, and other biological indicators of contaminant exposure or effects) into a monitoring program for large U.S. rivers; and to evaluate the compatibility of monitoring methods based on the analysis of fish with those used to monitor water by NASQAN. Common carp (Cyprinus carpio; carp) and black basses (Micropterus sp.; bass) were the targeted species; together, they represented 77% of the fish collected. Each fish was examined in the field for externally and internally visible gross lesions, selected organs were weighed to compute various ponderal and organosomatic indices, and samples of tissues and fluids were obtained and preserved for analysis of fish health and reproductive biomarkers. Composite samples of whole fish from each station were grouped by species and gender and analyzed by instrumental methods for persistent organic and inorganic contaminants and for dioxin-like activity (TCDD-EQ) using the H4IIE rat hepatoma cell bioassay.

Suggested Citation

Schmitt, C.J., Dethloff, G.M., Hinck, J.E., Bartish, T.M., Blazer, V.S., Coyle, J.J., Denslow, N.D., and Tillitt, D.E., 2004, Biomonitoring of Environmental Status and Trends (BEST) Program: Environmental Contaminants and their Effects on Fish in the Rio Grande Basin: U.S. Geological Survey, Columbia Environmental Research Center, Columbia, Missouri, Scientific Investigations Report 2004—5108, 117 p.,

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

ISSN: 2328-031X (print)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials and Methods
  • Results and Discussion
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • References
  • Appendix 1
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Biomonitoring of Environmental Status and Trends (BEST) Program: Environmental contaminants and their effects on fish in the Rio Grande Basin
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2004-5108
DOI 10.3133/sir20045108
Year Published 2004
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description x, 118 p.
Time Range Start 1997-01-01
Time Range End 1998-12-31
Country Mexico, United States
Other Geospatial Rio Grande basin
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details