Metal residues, histopathology and presence of parasites in the liver and gills of fourhorn sculpin (Myoxocephalus quadricornis) and shorthorn sculpin (Myoxocephalus scorpius) near a former lead-zinc mine in East Greenland

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Abstract

Fourhorn sculpins (Myoxocephalus quadricornis) and shorthorn sculpins (Myoxocephalus scorpius) have been considered suitable local bioindicators for environmental monitoring studies in the Arctic. Because these species share many characteristics, data from the two species have previously been pooled when assessing marine metal contamination. A chemical and histological study was conducted on fourhorn and shorthorn sculpins collected around a contaminated lead-zinc mine at East Greenland to investigate whether there were any differences in the residues of metals, histopathology and parasites in liver and gills between the two sculpin species. The results demonstrated that concentrations of copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), mercury (Hg) and lead (Pb) were significantly higher in the fourhorn sculpins (p<0.001) while there were no significant differences for arsenic (As) or cadmium (Cd). Furthermore, density of blood vessel fibrosis (p=0.028), prevalence and density of chondroplasia (p=0.002 and p=0.005, respectively), number of mucin-containing mucous cells (p<0.001) and chloride cells (p<0.001) and mean intensity of colonial Peritricha (p<0.001) were significantly higher in fourhorn sculpin. Based on these results we suggest that pooling the two species when conducting environmental assessments is not recommended as it can lead to incorrect conclusions. We propose that a larger study investigating the biological effects of zinc-lead mining in Greenland is needed.

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