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The Importance of Trophic Level and Carbon Source as Factors Affecting the Accumulation of PCBs in the Lake Michigan Food Web

Although there has been a reduction in input of PCBs to Lake Michigan over the past three decades, reductions in the PCB content of Lake Michigan over the past decade have been minimal. The fate of the large residual PCB pool in the lake depends to a large degree on food web structure, which is continually changing as a result of natural fluctuations and the invasion of exotic species. The objectives of this research project are to use stable isotopes to examine feeding relationships in Lake Michigan, to determine how these relationships determine PCB concentrations in various fish species, and to parameterize statistical models describing the effects of carbon source, lipid concentration and trophic level on bioaccumulation of PCBs. These models can then be used to help predict the impact of ongoing changes in food web structure on the concentration of PCBs in Lake Michigan biota.

This work is being done in collaboration with J. Aldstadt in the UWM Chemistry Department. Financial support is being provided by Wisconsin Sea Grant.