The latest on the Health of Fish and Wildlife and Impacts of Toxic Contaminants
- USGS works with USFWS and MD DNR to summarize effects of suburban lands and contaminants on the health of yellow perch in the Chesapeake Bay ...read more
- Study finds development and toxic contaminants leads to decline in yellow perch reproduction. Read more about the joint USGS, FWS, and MD DNR study.....
- Journal Article—Chemical contaminants in water and sediment near fish nesting sites in the Potomac River basin: Determining potential exposures to smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomie)
- Science Summary—Skin Lesions and Mortality of Fishes in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
- Science Summary—Indicators of Reproductive Endocrine Disruption in Fish in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
- Contaminant exposure and impacts on waterbirds and selected wildlife. (USGS Circular 1316)
- To see additional science summaries about fish, wildlife, and habitats visit the Features Archive page.
USGS Studies the Health of Fish and Wildlife and Impacts of Toxic Contaminants
Fish kills, skin lesions, and compromised reproductive systems of fish and wildlife in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have raised concerns about the health of fish and wildlife. Fish kills and poor health are related to multiple factors such as disease, bacterial pathogens, numerous parasites, and toxic contaminants, including endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Additionally, the potential impact of shale-gas drilling is a new concern in the Bay watershed.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and other agencies to better assess the multiple causes of the poor health of fish and wildlife. The assessments will help partners meet the goals of Executive Order 13508 to sustain fish and wildlife and restore water quality in the Bay watershed. The findings will be used by the Chesapeake Bay Program Goal Teams—Managing Fisheries, Restoring Habitats, and Water Quality—and partners to improve management policies and practices to restore these key species and reduce the impacts of toxic contaminants and other factors affecting fish and wildlife health.
USGS activities include:
- Conducting biological monitoring and genetic analysis to assess the health of fish and wildlife.
- Determining the types and sources of pathogens, parasites, and toxic contaminants impacting fish and wildlife.
- Working with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Chesapeake Bay Program partners to use the findings to help formulate strategies to improve conditions for fish and wildlife.
An important emphasis of the USGS studies is working with the FWS to assess the extent and cause of intersex conditions in freshwater fish. In areas of the Chesapeake watershed, the intersex condition is present in the male fish that have testicular oocytes (immature eggs) in the testes. The USGS is also conducting food-web studies to determine if contaminants in fish are in fish-eating birds (osprey is the indicator species). The USGS is focused on assessing the occurrence, sources, and impacts of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on fish and wildlife and assessing if shale-gas drilling may cause additional degradation.