Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2019 Apr;76(3):442-452. doi: 10.1007/s00244-018-00591-9. Epub 2019 Jan 8.
Under certain conditions, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) concentration in individuals of one sex of an adult fish population may exceed that of the other sex by more than a factor of two. This phenomenon, known as the PCB hot spot effect, has been postulated to be contingent upon the following two conditions: (1) presence of a PCB hot spot in the bottom sediments of the aquatic ecosystem, such that prey PCB concentrations in the hot spot region are substantially higher than prey PCB concentrations in locations distant from the hot spot, and (2) habitat use varying between the sexes, such that individuals of one sex inhabit the hot spot region to a considerably greater degree than individuals of the other sex. To test whether PCB concentrations in walleye Sander vitreus from lower Green Bay of Lake Michigan displayed a PCB hot spot effect, whole-fish PCB concentrations were determined in ten female and ten male adult walleye from the population spawning in the Fox River, the main tributary to lower Green Bay. In addition, mark-recapture data for the Fox River walleye population were analyzed to determine differences in spatial distributions between the sexes. Results revealed that the ratio of mean PCB concentration in males to mean PCB concentration in females was only 1.13, indicating the absence of a PCB hot spot effect. This result was corroborated by the mark-recapture data analysis, which showed no significant difference in habitat use between the sexes. Thus, although condition 1 was met, condition 2 was not met. Consequently, the PCB hot spot effect was not observed in the Fox River walleye population. Lack of a significant difference in PCB congener distributions between the sexes further corroborated our conclusions.