Principal Investigator: 
Sean Rafferty (
Penn State University
Seagrant Topics: 

In 2013, the U.S. Department of State delisted the fish tumors or other deformities beneficial-use impairment (BUI) and Presque Isle Bay Area of Concern (AOC) partially in response to research showing that liver tumor rates in Presque Isle Bay and the reference site Long Point Inner Bay were similar. Since DEP proposed delisting the fish tumor BUI and AOC, the use of liver and external tumors in brown bullhead as indicators of ecosystem health has been debated. Specifically, the following questions have been raised: 1) does the occurrence of liver and external tumors in brown bullhead indicate a greater impact to the Presque Isle Bay fish community or are liver and skin tumors unique to brown bullhead; and 2) are there other indicators that could be used to evaluate the ecological integrity of the Presque Isle Bay fish community. To address these questions, we propose to assess the ecological integrity of Presque Isle Bay by comparing hepatic, orocutaneous, and gonadal tumor rates within smallmouth bass, bowfin, yellow bullhead, and brown bullhead, and evaluating the occurrence of intersex in these species.  Fish will also be collected from Long Point Inner Harbor for comparison.  In addition, we will use condition factor, hepatosomatic index, and gonadosomatic index to assess the ecosystem health of Presque Isle Bay and Long Point Inner Harbor. 

Research Year: 
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Current or Past research?: 
Current Research

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