BIOCHEMICAL AND HISTOPATHOLOGICAL EFFECTS IN PEARL DACE (MARGARISCUS MARGARITA) CHRONICALLY EXPOSED TO A SYNTHETIC ESTROGEN IN A WHOLE LAKE EXPERIMENT
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Potential effects of exposure to the synthetic estrogen 17alpha-ethynylestradiol (EE2) were examined in several species of fish from a lake experimentally treated with environmentally relevant concentrations of the contaminant. Ethynylestradiol was added to Lake 260, a small Precambrian shield lake at the Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario, Canada, from May to October of 2001, 2002, and 2003. Mean concentrations of EE2 in epilimnetic waters ranged between 4.5 and 8.1 ng/L during the three years, with overall means of 6.1 (+/- 2.8), 5.0 (+/- 1.8), and 4.8 (+/- 1.0) ng/L for the three years, respectively. Male and female pearl dace (Margariscus margarita) captured after EE2 additions began contained up to 4,000-fold higher concentrations of the egg yolk precursor vitellogenin than fish captured from the same lake before the EE2 additions or when compared to fish from reference lakes. Edema in the ovaries, inhibited development of testicular tissue, intersex, and histopathological kidney lesions were all evident in fish exposed to EE2. Some indications that EE2 exposure affected in vitro steroidogenic capacity of the ovaries and the testes existed, although results were not always consistent between years. Pearl dace abundance was similar in the lake treated with EE2 and the reference lake. A trend exists toward a reduced overall population of pearl dace from the treated and reference lakes, as do indications that young-of-the-year size classes are less abundant in the EE2-treated lake. Biochemical and histopathological impacts observed in fish exposed to EE2 in this study have not yet been linked to clear population level impacts in pearl dace. Monitoring of these populations is ongoing.