A comparison of metal concentrations in the tissues of yellow American eel (Anguilla rostrata) and European eel (Anguilla anguilla)
Authors: Pannetier P, Caron A, Campbell PGC, Pierron F, Baudrimont M, Couture P
Source: Science of the Total Environment, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.06.232
Historically abundant and widespread, populations of Atlantic eels have suffered a sharp decline in recent decades, in the ranges 40–80% and 90–99% for American and European eels, respectively. As a result, American eels are now classified as threatened, whereas European eels are considered to be in critical danger of extinction. Several causes have been identified as likely contributors of this decline, including overfishing, obstacles to migration (hydroelectric dams), climate change and habitat contamination. In the context of a larger project investigating the role of organic and inorganic contaminants in this decline, in this study, we measured the liver, kidney and muscle concentrations of essential (Cu, Se and Zn) and non-essential (Ag, As, Cd, Cr, Hg, Ni and Pb) metals in eels sampled at four sites in the South-West of France and four sites in Eastern Canada varying in contamination. Tissue concentrations of Cd, Hg and Se increased with fish size and age. Tissue metal concentrations generally reflected the contamination of their sampling sites. This was the case for Ag, As, Cd, Cu, Hg, Pb and Se. Comparison of tissue concentrations of these metals with the toxicological literature suggests that all of them except As could pose a risk to the health of eels from the most contaminated sites. In particular, European eels may be particularly at risk of Cd and Pb toxicity. Globally, our study suggests that a substantial accumulation of inorganic contaminants in the tissues of both eel species at sites contaminated by historical anthropogenic inputs may play a role in their decline.
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