Fish and amphibian eggs, embryos and early posthatched (larval) stages were evaluated as bioindicator organisms with which to monitor the quality of natural water resources. Eggs of 9 species were cultured in water collected from each of 11 Inner Bluegrass rivers and streams. The latter were chosen to represent water sources varying in quality from extremely poor to good. Selection was based on the sources and magnitude of pollution, and the diversity and density of piscine populations. Cultures were maintained in vitro, using 12-hour changes of water.
Averaging data for all 9 animal species, egg hatchability (embryonic survival) ranged from 0% for the most contaminated water to 94% for uncontaminated water found to support a healthy aquatic biota. Eggs of the squirrel treefrog and gray treefrog were the most sensitive of 5 amphibian species tested, and of 4 fish species, rainbow trout eggs proved most susceptible to water contaminants.
Supported in part by the Office of Water Research and Technology, U.S. Department of the Interior, under the provisions of P.L. 88-379.
Birge, Wesley J.; Westerman, Albert G.; and Black, Jeffrey A., "Sensitivity of Vertebrate Embryos to Heavy Metals as a Criterion of Water Quality: Phase III: Use of Fish and Amphibian Eggs as Bioindicator Organisms for Evaluating Water Quality" (1976). KWRRI Research Reports. 205.