Organochlorine contaminant and stable isotope profiles in Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) from the Alaskan and Canadian Arctic. Academic Article uri icon


  • Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) is a circumpolar species distributed across northern Canada and Alaska. Arctic fox muscle and liver were collected at Barrow, AK, USA (n=18), Holman, NT, Canada (n=20), and Arviat, NU, Canada (n=20) to elucidate the feeding ecology of this species and relate these findings to body residue patterns of organochlorine contaminants (OCs). Stable carbon (delta 13C) and nitrogen (delta 15N) isotope analyses of Arctic fox muscle indicated that trophic position (estimated by delta 15N) is positively correlated with increasing delta 13C values, suggesting that Arctic fox with a predominantly marine-based foraging strategy occupy a higher trophic level than individuals mostly feeding from a terrestrial-based carbon source. At all sites, the rank order for OC groups in muscle was polychlorinated biphenyls (Sigma PCB) > chlordane-related compounds (Sigma CHLOR) > hexachlorocyclohexane (Sigma HCH) > total toxaphene (TOX) > or = chlorobenzenes (Sigma ClBz) > DDT-related isomers (Sigma DDT). In liver, Sigma CHLOR was the most abundant OC group, followed by Sigma PCB > TOX > Sigma HCH > Sigma ClBz > Sigma DDT. The most abundant OC analytes detected from Arctic fox muscle and liver were oxychlordane, PCB-153, and PCB-180. The comparison of delta 15N with OC concentrations indicated that relative trophic position might not accurately predict OC bioaccumulation in Arctic fox. The bioaccumulation pattern of OCs in the Arctic fox is similar to the polar bear. While Sigma PCB concentrations were highly variable, concentrations in the Arctic fox were generally below those associated with the toxicological endpoints for adverse effects on mammalian reproduction. Further research is required to properly elucidate the potential health impacts to this species from exposure to OCs.

published proceedings

  • Environ Pollut

author list (cited authors)

  • Hoekstra, P. F., Braune, B. M., O'Hara, T. M., Elkin, B., Solomon, K. R., & Muir, D.

citation count

  • 44

complete list of authors

  • Hoekstra, PF||Braune, BM||O'Hara, TM||Elkin, B||Solomon, KR||Muir, DCG

publication date

  • January 2003