A sensory system at the interface between urban stormwater runoff and salmon survival

Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, United States
Environmental Science and Technology (Impact Factor: 5.48). 05/2007; 41(8):2998-3004. DOI: 10.1021/es062287r
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Motor vehicles are a major source of toxic contaminants such as copper, a metal that originates from vehicle exhaust and brake pad wear. Copper and other pollutants are deposited on roads and other impervious surfaces and then transported to aquatic habitats via stormwater runoff. In the western United States, exposure to non-point source pollutants such as copper is an emerging concern for many populations of threatened and endangered Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) that spawn and rear in coastal watersheds and estuaries. To address this concern, we used conventional neurophysiological recordings to investigate the impact of ecologically relevant copper exposures (0-20 microg/L for 3 h) on the olfactory system of juvenile coho salmon (O. kisutch). These recordings were combined with computer-assisted video analyses of behavior to evaluate the sensitivity and responsiveness of copper-exposed coho to a chemical predation cue (conspecific alarm pheromone). The sensory physiology and predator avoidance behaviors of juvenile coho were both significantly impaired by copper at concentrations as low as 2 microg/L. Therefore, copper-containing stormwater runoff from urban landscapes has the potential to cause chemosensory deprivation and increased predation mortality in exposed salmon.

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