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Acute toxicity and maximum acceptable toxicant concentration (MATC) values, derived under laboratory conditions, provide useful and valid means for predicting environmental impacts of metals on trout populations in natural environments. Toxicity results from in situ bioassays, using unacclimated (hatchery-reared) rainbow trout and other resident salmonids, agree closely with laboratory-derived toxicity findings where fish species, fish size, and water hardness are similar. Concentrations of zinc, copper, and cadmium increase from trace levels in the Slate River, in Colorado, above the confluence with the metal-mine drainage of Coal Creek, to amounts in excess of those concentrations found to be acutely toxic to unacclimated rainbow trout under laboratory experimentation. Resident brown and brook trout were severely impacted by the metals introduced by Coal Creek. Acute toxicity occurred during the August in situ bioassay at the Slate River station immediately below Coal Creek. Stations farther downstream, where the concentrations of metals decreased to MATC levels for brook trout, showed a marked reduction in the number of resident salmonids and probable restrictions in upstream spawning migrations.
aquatic toxicology, in situ, bioassays, acute bioassays, long-term bioassays, cadmium, copper, zinc, rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, metal standards for aquatic life
Aquatic toxicologist, Research Center, Fort Collins, Colo.
Aquatic ecologist, Camp Dresser and McKee, Inc., Wheat Ridge, Colo.