Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 128, Issue 1, pp 183–194

Assessment of the potential of the rock gunnel (Pholis gunnellus) along the Atlantic coast of Canada as a species for monitoring the reproductive impacts of contaminant exposures

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10661-006-9304-8

Cite this article as:
Vallis, L., Maclatchy, D.L. & Munkittrick, K.R. Environ Monit Assess (2007) 128: 183. doi:10.1007/s10661-006-9304-8


Evaluating the impacts of point source discharges on fish species in estuarine environments can be challenging because of a paucity of resident species. We evaluated the biology of rock gunnel (Pholis gunnellus) at three relatively uncontaminated sites in the Bay of Fundy, along the Atlantic coast of Canada. Rock gunnel are seasonally resident (April to November) in tide pools, but little was known about their life history in Atlantic Canada or their potential for use for monitoring environmental quality. Fish were collected between April and November, and ranged from 2.46 g--15.2~g in weight and 97 mm-170 mm in length, with a maximum age of 7 years. Both males and females were similar in size, and both reached sexual maturity at a size of 5.5 g. Organ weights and condition indices of fish were stable from spring when they returned from offshore (April to May) until late summer (August to September), but fall fish (October to November) had slightly larger gonads, livers and condition indices. Rock gunnel may be a useful indicator to provide insight into local impacts of point sources over a short time period. However, they do not provide adequate information on reproductive development and performance since they are not exposed to onshore contaminants during the periods of gonadal development that have most commonly found to be sensitive to anthropogenic stressors.


Rock gunnelSentinel speciesAtlantic CanadaEffects monitoringReproductive status

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Vallis
    • 1
  • D. L. Maclatchy
    • 1
  • K. R. Munkittrick
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biology and Canadian Rivers InstituteUniversity of New BrunswickSaint JohnCanada
  2. 2.Department of Biology and Canadian Rivers Institute and Canada Research Chair in Ecosystem Health AssessmentUniversity of New BrunswickSaint JohnCanada