Skeletal deformities in smallmouth bass, Micropterus dolomieui, from southern Appalachian reservoirs

M. J. Van Den Avyle, S. J. Garvick, V. S. Blazer, S. J. Hamilton, W. G. Brumbaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieui) populations in two of five reservoirs sampled in the southern Appalachian Mountains contained high percentages of individuals with lordosis, kyphosis, or scoliosis. Deformities of the vertebral column occurred in several year classes and varied with fish size; they were absent in small fish, present in 25-30% of the fish 241-300 mm long, and then decreased in occurrence with increased length. Because environmental contamination is often responsible for high occurrences of deformed fish, whole-body concentrations of contaminants, bone development characteristics, and blood plasma concentrations of calcium and phosphorus in normal and deformed fish were measured and compared the results with those for fish from reservoirs where no deformities were found. Vertebrae were significantly weaker and more elastic in deformed than in normal fish, but biochemical properties of vertebrae were similar among the groups tested. Concentrations of pesticides and metals were not elevated in deformed fish, and concentrations of calcium and phosphorus in blood plasma were similar in normal and deformed groups. Most environmental contaminants that have been shown to cause fish deformities could be discounted as causative agents on the basis of these results; however, the exact cause was not determined. Further attempts to diagnose the cause of the deformities were limited by the lack of background information on relationships among bone development processes, types of stresses that cause deformities, and types of bone tissue in fish.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)688-696
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 1989

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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