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The distribution and bioaccumulation of heavy metals in mine-polluted and nonpolluted desert streams was studied during 1975 and 1976. Heavy metal concentrations in reference streams were less than the detection limits; however, periodic input of mining and milling wastes increased the zinc, copper, manganese, and iron in receiving test streams to above this level. Copper and, to a lesser extent, managanese concentrations were higher in samples of sediment and biota collected from contaminated waters (P < 0.05). The copper concentration was twelve times higher in biota collected from metal-contaminated waters than an identical species collected from reference areas. Fish viscera, fish eggs, and eviscerated fish in mine-impacted streams also contained a higher copper content. In contrast, concentrations of iron, cadmium, lead, and mercury were similar in all samples. The distributions of copper, manganese, and iron in the trophic levels were similar; consumer organisms concentrated less metal than did the sediments of primary producers. An exception was zinc, which achieved its highest concentration in the middle trophic levels. Higher copper levels in fish tissue did not effect length-weight relationships or condition values (P > 0.05).
aquatic toxicology, heavy metals, bioaccumulation, desert streams, longfin dace, length-weight relationships, condition values
Aquatic biologist, Arizona State UniversityProcter and Gamble Co., Environmental Safety Department, Ivorydale Technical Center, TempeCincinnati, ArizonaOhio