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Environ Toxicol Chem. 2002 Nov;21(11):2356-64.

Influence of trophic position on organochlorine concentrations and compositional patterns in a marine food web.

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  • 1University of Oslo, Institute of Biology, Department of Marine Zoology and Marine Chemistry, Norway.


The accumulation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), DDTs (p,p'-DDT [1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis(4-chlorophenyl)ethane], o,p'-DDT [1,1,1-trichloro-2-(2-chlorophenyl)-2-(4-chlorophenyl)ethane], p,p'-DDD [1,1,-dichloro-2,2-bis(4-chlorophenyl)ethane], o.p'-DDD [1,1-dichloro-2-(2-chlorophenyl)-2-(4-chlorophenyl)ethane], and p,p'-DDE [1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(4-chlorophenyl)ethene]), chlordanes (trans-chlordane, cis-chlordane, trans-nonachlor, cis-nonachlor and oxychlordane), hexachlorocyclohexanes (alpha-, beta-, and gamma-isomers), hexachlorobenzene, and mirex was investigated in a marine food web from southeastern Norway. The food web consisted of the polychaete Nereis diversicolor, lesser sandeel (Ammodytes tobianus), three species of gobys (Gobiusculus flavescens, Pomatoschistus sp., and Gobius niger), bullrout (Myoxocephalus scorpius), cod (Gadus morhua), herring gull (Larus argentatus), and harbor seal (Phoca vitulina). The results show that interspecies differences in organochlorine (OC) compositional patterns in the food web depend on several factors (allometric, biochemical, physical, and physicochemical) specific to both the chemicals and the organisms. The importance of dietary accumulation and metabolic capacity increases toward higher trophic levels, while the OC patterns are to a larger extent determined by the lipophilicity and water solubility of the compounds at lower trophic levels. Furthermore, stable nitrogen isotopes provided a continuous measure of trophic position, rendering us capable of quantifying the increases in the concentrations of sigma PCB, sigma dichorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), and sigma chlordane (CHL) and the percentages of highly chlorinated PCBs through the food web. The information provided may be important for future modeling of the fate of organochlorine contaminants in marine food webs.

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