Concentrations of organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls in amphipods (Gammarus lacustris) along an elevation gradient in mountain lakes of western Canada Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractPopulations of the amphipod Gammarus lacustris were examined for their concentrations of organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from seven lakes spanning a 1,300‐m elevation gradient in Alberta, Canada. The concentrations of several of the semivolatile organochlorine compounds ([SVOCs], vapor pressure > 0.03 Pa at 20°C) increased at higher altitudes. This pattern was generally not observed among the less volatile organochlorines ([LVOCs], vapor pressure < 0.03 Pa at 20°C). These same SVOC compounds have been previously shown to increase at high latitudes as a result of their long‐range transport and preferential deposition in cold climates. We also show that populations of G. lacustris at high elevations have slower growth rates and store more lipids than populations at lower elevations. To resolve the colinearity of independent variables, we used multiple regression to identify patterns of contaminant concentrations in this data set. Multiple regressions showed that the effect of elevation, lipid content, and temperature on contaminant concentrations was no longer significant once the growth rate of Gammarus was included as an independent variable. This study shows that enrichment of SVOCs occurs in Gammarus at high altitudes in Alberta, Canada, and that growth rate (biodilution) appears to be the primary influence. Because Gammarus is an important trophic link in aquatic foodwebs in these environments, enhanced concentrations of toxicants in prey may increase their biomagnification in top predators of high‐altitude lakes.


  • Blais, Jules M
  • Wilhelm, Frank
  • Kidd, Karen
  • Muir, Derek CG
  • Donald, David B
  • Schindler, David W

publication date

  • November 2003