PCB elimination by yellow perch (Perca flavescens) during an annual temperature cycle

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Environmental Science and Technology





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The significance of temperature on aquatic species ecology and physiology is well recognized yet its effects on chemical bioaccumulation kinetics are less well understood under natural conditions. In this study, yellow perch were dosed with a polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) mixture and allowed to depurate the chemicals over 1 year under an ambient temperature cycle characteristic of northern temperate latitudes. PCB elimination kinetics during the summer months at optimal water temperature for perch (23°C) were similar to those observed in lab studies with other species reared at their optimal temperature. During the fall and winter seasons, however, elimination of only 11 PCB congeners of log Kow ≤ 5.7 was observed and half-lives averaged > 1000 d for these PCBs. PCB elimination was again observed with the onset of spring temperatures but elimination rates averaged 2.6 times slower for readily metabolized congeners and 7.5 times slower for more persistent PCBs than observed during the summer. Bioenergetics modeling efforts predicted maximum values for respiration, fecal egestion, and growth rates during summer months but also predicted rapid declines in these chemical dilution processes during the fall and winter concurrent with changes in temperature. As temperature increased into the spring, bioenergetic rates were predicted to increase but only achieved ∼85% of maximum rates predicted for summer peak temperatures. These results indicate that minimal chemical elimination occurs in perch when metabolic functioning falls to low maintenance levels during the fall and winter. These seasons encompass approximately 8 months of the year at northern temperate latitudes and therefore these patterns have significant consequences for understanding mechanisms of food-web biomagnification of hydrophobic organic chemicals in aquatic systems. © 2007 American Chemical Society.