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George Kyle Stringer | 2024 I.S. Symposium

Name: George Kyle Stringer
Title: Investigating Physiological Abnormalities Induced by Contaminated Aquatic Sites in Freshwater Fish Across Northeast Ohio
Major: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Advisors: Dr. Rebecca Williams; Erzs├ębet Regan (second reader)

Biomarkers have become an effective tool to monitor the viability of aquatic environments and influences on organisms. Detection of exposure to pollutants in fish and assessments of their biological responses are an efficient way to keep track of environmental changes. The present study aims to investigate potential relationships between physiological abnormalities observed in 11 fish species in contact with contaminated sediment from sites across northeast Ohio. Fish were collected from the Cuyahoga River, Silver Creek Lake, Sippo Lake, Tappan Lake, and Killbuck Creek. The sampled fish species were collected through hoop netting, gill netting, and electrofishing techniques. Examinations and analyses for external and internal abnormalities were conducted as defined by several USGS guidelines. In total, 45 fish were collected with 121 abnormalities counted across the study. Fish from the Cuyahoga River test site had a total of six abnormalities present across the body (n=6), while fish from Silver Creek Lake had n=10, Sippo Lake n=16, and Tappan Lake n=32 abnormalities. Samples from Killbuck Creek had a range of n=8 to n=49 total anomalies depending on the site location. Results suggest that fish from heavily polluted sites containing contaminated sediment may have adapted for better survival in a carcinogenetic environment, having a smaller body size and larger internal organs, for example. Additionally, there was an observed pattern of discoloration, hemorrhaging, scarring, and fin erosion in fish collected from sites contaminated with bacterial infection, high chemical concentrations, and solid waste pollution. An observable linear pattern between physiological abnormalities and PAH contamination levels could be concluded from the results of this research. The current study contains information that falls under interest regarding toxicology and adaptability while providing data to increase conservation strategies toward environmental viability.

Posted in Symposium 2024 on April 19, 2024.