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Environ Sci Technol. 2006 Oct 15;40(20):6489-97.

Assessing effects of metal mining effluent on fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) reproduction in a trophic-transfer exposure system.

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Toxicology Centre, 44 Campus Drive, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada S7N 5B3.


Assessment of effects of metal mine effluent (MME) on aquatic organisms in lab-based settings predominantly evaluates contaminant transfer through the water only with little emphasis on food-borne exposure. The effects of MME on fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) (FHM) have been reported downstream of metal mine discharges in the Junction Creek system, Sudbury, ON, but to date, no study has investigated the significance of trophic transfer in this system. Our objective was to develop a self-sustaining trophic-transfer bioassay, using Chironomus tentans and FHM, that allowed assessment of the effects of not only water-borne (FHM-only) but also food- and water-borne (trophic-transfer) exposure to MME on FHM reproduction. Reproductive performance of FHM was assessed for 21 days under controlled laboratory conditions to obtain baseline data of various endpoints, including egg production and hatching success. Exposure to 45% (v/v) Copper Cliff mine effluent (CCME) and control treatments for both systems was then conducted for a further 21 days. It was evident that reproductive output in both the water-only and the trophic-transfer system was reduced compared to controls. It was only in the trophic-transfer system that a significant reduction in larval hatching and an increase in deformities occurred after exposure to CCME. This would suggest that contaminated food was a route of exposure causing effects on larval survival.

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