Intersex as the manifestation of testicular oocytes (TO) in male gonochoristic fishes has been used as an indicator of estrogenic exposure. Here we evaluated largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) or smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) form 19 National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) in the Northeast U.S. inhabiting waters on or near NWR lands for evidence of estrogenic endocrine disruption. Waterbodies sampled included rivers, lakes, impoundments, ponds, and reservoirs. Here we focus on evidence of endocrine disruption in male bass evidenced by gonad histopathology including intersex or abnormal plasma vitellogenin (Vtg) concentrations. During the fall seasons of 2008–2010, we collected male smallmouth bass (n¼118) from 12 sites and largemouth bass (n¼173) from 27 sites. Intersex in male smallmouth bass was observed at all sites and ranged from 60% to 100%; in male largemouth bass the range was 0–100%. Estrogenicity, as measured using a bioluminescent yeast reporter, was detected above the probable no effects concentration (0.73 ng/L) in ambient water samples from 79% of the NWR sites. Additionally, the presence of androgen receptor and glucocorticoid receptor ligands were noted as measured via novel nuclear receptor translocation assays. Mean plasma Vtg was elevated (40.2 mg/ml)
in male smallmouth bass at four sites and in male largemouth bass at one site. This is the first reconnaissance survey of this scope conducted on US National Wildlife Refuges. The baseline data collected here provide a necessary benchmark for future monitoring and justify more comprehensive NWR-specific studies.
Iwanowicz L.R., Blazer V.S. et al. (2016) Evidence of estrogenic endocrine disruption in smallmouth and largemouth bass inhabiting Northeast US national wildlife refuge waters: A reconnaissance study. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 124:50-59.