Modeling the long-term effect of PCBs on Everglades fish communities

Fish communities are regularly exposed to a large number of natural and synthetic toxic chemicals, whose harmful effects, both short-term and long-term, need to be studied. Mathematical simulation models are known to be useful tools in the assessment of both acute and chronic effects. A time-concentration-effect model has been developed to assess the long-term effect of PCBs on multi generations of fish communities in the Florida Everglades. The term fish is used here generically to refer to five functional fish groups (FGs), two having small and two having large adult size, and a crustacean (crayfish), each of which are further composed of several age classes. Several contaminant concentration scenarios are analyzed in the simulations, subject to mortality and hatchability failure. The model predicts the population response time series for each FG, based upon exposure concentration and duration. Model results indicate that a concentration of 0.1 gl–1 could have adverse effects on survival and reproduction success for Everglades fish communities. For comparison, the USEPA has stipulated a standard of 0.014 gl–1 for the protection of freshwater fish from chronic effects and a standard of 1.0 gl–1 from acute effects. Hopefully, the model may be further developed to assist in the formulation of policy or regulations concerning aquatic ecological risk to protect the aquatic ecosystem of the Everglades.

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