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  • Measuring persistent organic pollutants in resident salmonids and benthic macroinvertebrates in streams near Glacier National Park, Alaska


Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) Environmental and Fisheries Sciences EFS - Environmental Chemistry


Chemical contaminants in resident salmonids and benthic prey
Measuring persistent organic pollutants in resident salmonids and benthic macroinvertebrates in streams near Glacier National Park, Alaska
A 2007 pilot study was initiated by the University of Alaska ā€“ Southeast in which baseline levels of contaminants, including persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and total mercury, were determined in whole bodies of juvenile coho salmon collected in streams in and near national park units in the Southeast Alaska Inventory and Monitoring Network. Although the concentrations of POPs determined in the juvenile coho were relatively low (< 10 ng/g, wet weight), the preliminary findings of this study indicate that, in the Glacier National Park region, salmon from streams with higher density of spawners had increased levels of certain banned chlorinated pesticides (i.e., alpha-chlordane, o,pā€™-DDT, p,pā€™-DDD) compared to salmon collected in other streams with lower salmon spawning density.
A follow up study will be initiated in spring/summer 2015 to determine concentrations of POPs in resident salmonids, as well as benthic macroinvertebrates collected from five streams that have fish barriers near or adjacent to Glacier National Park. Comparisons in contaminant concentrations and patterns will be made for fish collected below and above the barrier in each stream to help determine if certain classes of POPs are being transported by the spawners. As part of this study, the NWFSC will analyze whole bodies/muscle of salmonids and benthic macroinvertebrate samples POPs using gas chromatography / mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Percent lipid content of samples (with adequate sample mass) will also be determined. These data will be included in a report to the NIH-sponsored IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence.

Data Sets

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Research Themes

Habitats to support sustainable fisheries and recovered populations
Healthy oceans, coastal waters, and riverine habitats provide the foundation for aquatic resources used by a diversity of species and society. Protecting marine, estuarine and freshwater ecosystems that support these species relies on science to link habitat condition/processes and the biological effects of restoration actions. The NWFSC provides the habitat science behind many management actions taken by NOAA Fisheries and other natural resource agencies to protect and recover aquatic ecosystems and living marine resources. The NWFSC also maintains a longstanding focus on toxic chemical contaminants, as a foundation for regional and national research on pollution threats to fisheries and protected resources.

Research Foci

Assess the impacts of toxic chemicals and other pollutants across biological scales, and identify pollution reduction strategies that improve habitat quality
The NWFSC has been at the forefront of marine pollution research for more than four decades, providing science support for several major events, including the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Hurricane Katrina, and the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Land-based sources of pollution are an increasingly important threat to NOAA trust resources, and NWFSC science is evolving to fill priority information gaps at the regional and national scales. This includes targeted research on major classes of contaminants (e.g., crude oil, pesticides, metals, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals of emerging concern); surveillance monitoring to assess the exposure, health and status of species in polluted habitats; exposure; monitoring to assess the success of habitat restoration efforts; and research to evaluate the effectiveness of new green infrastructure technologies. Ongoing efforts span all biological scales, from molecular mechanisms of toxicity to population and community-level responses.


contaminant of concern at the site
Salmonid recovery


None associated


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Bernadita Anulacion
Daryle Boyd
Gina Ylitalo
Internal Collaborator
Jennie Bolton
Ronald Pearce