Pesticides in Urban Streams and Prespawn Mortality of Pacific Coho Salmon

  • Kerensa A. King
  • Christian E. Grue
  • James M. Grassley
  • James W. Hearsey


The listing of several runs of Pacific salmon as threatened or endangered and associated federal, state, and local efforts to restore/enhance salmon habitat in the Pacific Northwest make it imperative that the factors associated with these population declines are understood. Prespawn mortality (PSM) has been documented in coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) within urban streams in western Washington since the late 1990s and is characterized by a suite of neurological and respiratory symptoms with mortality occurring shortly thereafter. Mortality rates in returning adults have ranged between 17 and 100 %. The cause of PSM is not known, but the presence of pesticide residues within urban streams led to a hypothesis that PSM in coho salmon and pesticides in urban streams were linked. We exposed pairs of “green” (unripe) prespawn male and female coho salmon to a pesticide mixture (“cocktail”) reported in urban streams in western Washington State, USA. Longevity, ripening in female salmon, and brain acetylcholinesterase were not significantly affected by continuous exposure to the maximum reported concentrations of the pesticides. Fertilization, hatching success, and growth of fry were also not affected when green adults were exposed to these concentrations for 96 h. The absence of effects suggests it is unlikely that pesticides within stormwater are singularly responsible for PSM in coho salmon or that they impair the reproductive capability of exposed adults.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kerensa A. King
    • 1
    • 3
  • Christian E. Grue
    • 2
  • James M. Grassley
    • 1
  • James W. Hearsey
    • 1
  1. 1.Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research UnitSchool of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.United States Geological SurveyWashington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research UnitSeattleUSA
  3. 3.U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological ServicesRenoUSA

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