SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1999

Use of Behavioral Endpoints to Determine Protective Concentrations of the Insecticide Fonofos for Bluegill ( )


This research compared the results of laboratory and mesocosm studies to determine the effectiveness of using behavioral measures of sublethal exposure to define environmental concentration ranges that are protective of free-ranging populations of bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) exposed to the organophophate insecticide fonofos. Thirty-day laboratory chronic studies were conducted to determine the relative sensitivity of standard (e.g. survival and growth) and non-standard behavioral (e.g. swimming capacity, feeding efficiency, and aggression) endpoints in predicting concentrations of fonofos protective of bluegill growth and survival. The lowest observable effect concentration (LOECs) for the standard measures of survival and growth was 5.6 μg/L. Two behavioral endpoints were of similar sensitivity to the standard measures: swimming capacity, LOEC of 5.6 μg/L; and prey strike frequency, LOEC of 5.6 μg/L. However, aggressive interactions were ten-fold more sensitive than swimming or feeding behavior with a LOEC occurring at 0.6 μg/L. Lab results were compared to an aquatic mesocosm study which exposed adult and juvenile bluegill to a 9.41 μg/L concentration of fonofos. The dissipation half-life of fonofos was 5 days in 0.1 hectare aquatic mesocosms. Significant mortality among caged bluegill occurred within 4 days of exposure at 9.41 μg/L. However, the 9.41 μg/L concentration of fonofos had no statistically significant effects on survival, growth, reproduction, or total biomass of free-ranging populations of bluegill. We conclude from these studies that laboratory data can accurately estimate concentrations that are lethal in the field and that the use of behavioral endpoints can provide ecologically relevant, yet conservative estimates of concentrations that are protective of field populations.

Author Information

Fairchild, JF
U.S.Geological Survey. Columbia Environmental Research Center, Columbia, Missouri
Little, EE
U.S.Geological Survey. Columbia Environmental Research Center, Columbia, Missouri
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Developed by Committee: E47
Pages: 387–400
DOI: 10.1520/STP15817S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5408-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2618-3