Development and Application of Biomarkers to Evaluate Endocrine Disruption in Fish as a Result of Chicken Manure Application on the Delmarva Peninsula

Principal Investigator:

Daniel J. Fisher

Start/End Year:

2000 - 2003


Wye Research & Education Center



The primary objective of this project is to assess whether endocrine disruption occurs in fish populations on the Delmarva peninsula as a result of chicken manure application to fields. Since 17 B-estradiol is present in elevated concentrations in chicken manure, we hypothesize that runoff from fields treated with manure will exert a direct estrogenic effect on freshwater and estuaries through surface water runoff following application of chicken manure to fields? (2) If so, what concentrations occur in waters and sediments following "standard" application of chicken manure as fertilizer? (3) Are resulting 17 B-estradiol levels sufficient to induce endocrine disrupting effects on resident fish species? (4) Finally, are such effects evident in resident fish populations from impacted areas on the Delmarva peninsula? While previous studies have reported 17 B-estradiol in runoff from chicken manure amended fields to surrounding receiving bodies [Nichols et al., 1997; Shore et al., 1995], none were designed to investigate the link between environmental 17 B-estradiol exposure and endocrine disruption in fish resident in receiving streams and estuaries. If such a link exists, the magnitude of impact to watersheds of the Delmarva peninsula and on the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays and Coastal ecosystems could be substantial.

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