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      Individual-Based Model Framework to Assess Population Consequences of Polychlorinated Biphenyl Exposure in Bottlenose Dolphins


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          Marine mammals are susceptible to the effects of anthropogenic contaminants. Here we examine the effect of different polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) accumulation scenarios on potential population growth rates using, as an example, data obtained for the population of bottlenose dolphins from Sarasota Bay, Florida. To achieve this goal, we developed an individual-based model framework that simulates the accumulation of PCBs in the population and modifies first-year calf survival based on maternal blubber PCB levels. In our example the current estimated annual PCB accumulation rate for the Sarasota Bay dolphin population might be depressing the potential population growth rate. However, our predictions are limited both by model naivety and parameter uncertainty. We emphasize the need for more data collection on the relationship between maternal blubber PCB levels and calf survivorship, the annual accumulation of PCBs in the blubber of females, and the transfer of PCBs to the calf through the placenta and during lactation. Such data require continued efforts directed toward long-term studies of known individuals in wild and semi-wild populations.

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          Most cited references35

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          Bottlenose Dolphins as Marine Ecosystem Sentinels: Developing a Health Monitoring System

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            Reproductive failure in common seals feeding on fish from polluted coastal waters.

            The population of common seal Phoca vitulina in the westernmost part of the Wadden Sea, The Netherlands, has collapsed during the past few decades. Between 1950 and 1975 the population dropped from more than 3,000 to less than 500 animals. Comparative studies of common seal populations from different parts of the Wadden Sea reveal that pup production has declined sharply only in the western (Dutch) part. A comparative toxicological study on the levels of heavy metals and organochlorines in tissues of seals from the western and northern parts of the Wadden Sea shows that only the polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) levels differ significantly. This is predominantly a result of PCB pollution from the river Rhine, which mainly affects the western (Dutch) part. PCBs are thought to be responsible for the low rate of reproduction in Dutch common seals on the basis of epidemiological and experimental data on the ability of PCBs to interfere with mammalian reproduction. Here I report that reproductive failure in common seals from the Dutch Wadden Sea is related to feeding on fish from that polluted area. This is the first demonstration of a causal relationship between naturally occurring levels of pollutants and a physiological response in marine mammals.
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              Geographical and temporal variation in levels of organochlorine contaminants in marine mammals.

              The interpretation of the spatial and temporal patterns of variation in organochlorine concentrations in marine mammal populations is complex because of the lack of wide-scale, long-term surveys. Therefore the results from several surveys must be combined and this causes undesired heterogeneity due to differences in the sampling and analytical techniques used and in the biological characteristics of the individuals sampled. Moreover, information is not homogeneously distributed in either space or in time. Most research is concentrated in western Europe, northern America and certain areas of Asia, while it is extremely limited or non-existent in Africa and most regions of the southern hemisphere. Marine mammals from the temperate fringe of the northern hemisphere, particularly fish-eating species which inhabit the mid-latitudes of Europe and North America, show the greatest organochlorine loads; noteworthy are the extremely high levels found in the Mediterranean Sea and certain locations on the western coasts of the United States. Concentrations in the tropical and equatorial fringe of the northern hemisphere and throughout the southern hemisphere are low or extremely low. The polar regions of both hemispheres showed the lowest concentrations of DDTs and PCBs, although levels of HCHs, chlordanes and HCB were moderate to high in the cold waters of the North Pacific. During recent decades, concentrations have tended to decrease in the regions where pollution was initially high but they have increased in regions located far from the pollution source as a consequence of atmospheric transport and redistribution. It is expected that the Arctic and, to a lesser extent, the Antarctic, will become major sinks for organochlorines in the future; this process may already be significant for some compounds such as HCB and HCHs. Effort should be devoted to both assessment of organochlorine trends in the now highly polluted populations of the temperate fringe of the northern hemisphere and to the implementation of long-term monitoring of marine mammal populations inhabiting polar regions.

                Author and article information

                Environ Health Perspect
                Environmental Health Perspectives
                National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
                April 2006
                21 October 2005
                : 114
                : S-1
                : 60-64
                [1 ] Sea Mammal Research Unit, Gatty Marine Laboratory, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom
                [2 ] National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
                [3 ] Department of Animal Biology and GRUMM, Parc Cientific de Barcelona, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
                [4 ] Chicago Zoological Society, Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota, Florida, USA
                [5 ] Alterra–Marine and Coastal Zone Research, Den Burg, the Netherlands
                Author notes
                Address correspondence to A. Hall, Sea Mammal Research Unit, Gatty Marine Laboratory, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, KY16 8LB, Scotland, UK. Telephone: 44-1334-462-634. Fax: 44-1334-462-632. E-mail: ajh7@ 123456st-andrews.ac.uk

                The authors declare they have no competing financial interests.

                This is an Open Access article: verbatim copying and redistribution of this article are permitted in all media for any purpose, provided this notice is preserved along with the article's original DOI

                Public health
                tursiops truncatus,calf survival,endocrine disruption,risk assessment
                Public health
                tursiops truncatus, calf survival, endocrine disruption, risk assessment


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