A simulation-based evaluation of management actions to reduce the risk of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) to walleye in the Great Lakes Basin

Maxime Vaugeois, Paul A Venturelli, Stephanie L. Hummel, Valery E. Forbes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) are ubiquitous, present in complex chemical mixtures, and represent a threat to the Great Lake ecosystem. Mitigation strategies are needed to protect populations of key species, but knowledge about ecological and biological effects of CECs at the population level are limited. In this study, we combined laboratory data on CEC effects at the individual-level with in-situ CEC concentration data in a walleye (Sander vitreus) population model to simulate the effectiveness of different CEC mitigation strategies in the Maumee River and Lake Erie. We compared the effectiveness of moderate mitigation (50% reduction in exposure level) of an entire watershed versus intensive mitigation (reduction of exposure to a level that does not affect walleye) of single river sites for three CEC mixture scenarios (agricultural, urban, and combined). We also explored the impact of hypothetical chemical toxicokinetics (the time course of chemicals in walleye) on the relative effectiveness of the mitigation strategies. Our results suggest that when CECs impact fecundity, single-site mitigation is more effective when it focuses on spawning sites and nearby downstream sites that are substantially impaired. Our simulations also suggest that chemical toxicokinetics are important when evaluating single-site mitigation strategies, but that population characteristics, such as stage-specific mortality rate, are more important when evaluating watershed mitigation strategies. Results can be used to guide fisheries management, such as choosing habitat restoration sites, and identify key knowledge gaps that direct future research and monitoring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number144326
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - May 10 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Chiara Accolla for helpful discussions. The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Funding was provided from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Contaminants of Emerging Concern Team.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Agent based model
  • Ecological risk assessment
  • Maumee River
  • Mitigation strategy
  • Mixtures
  • Toxicokinetics

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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