Blog: Chemical cuisine – Chinook exposure to pesticides varies with preferred prey
The Central Valley of California only contains 1% of U.S. farmland, but generates 8% of the country’s agricultural output and produces a quarter of the nation’s food. Much of this astounding production comes from the 8,500 square kilometers of farmland in the Sacramento River watershed, which covers the northern portion of the Central Valley. This extensive farmland means that the watershed is exposed to a significant amount of compounds commonly used in farming, including pesticides. As water flows over the land to streams and rivers, it carries these contaminants along with it, ultimately dumping them in waterways and floodplains, where they often make their way into the food web. Consequently, juvenile Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) feeding and rearing within the watershed can be exposed to these harmful compounds.