Title: Assessing element-specific patterns of bioaccumulation across New England lakes.
Authors: Ward, Darren M; Mayes, Brandon; Sturup, Stefan; Folt, Carol L; Chen, Celia Y
Published In Sci Total Environ, (2012 Apr 1)
Abstract: Little is known about differences among trace elements in patterns of bioaccumulation in freshwater food webs. Our goal was to identify patterns in bioaccumulation of different elements that are large and consistent enough to discern despite variation across lakes. We measured methylmercury (MeHg) and trace element (As, Cd, Hg, Pb, and Zn) concentrations in food web components of seven New England lakes on 3-5 dates per lake, and contrasted patterns of bioaccumulation across lakes, metals and seasons. In each lake, trace element concentrations were compared across trophic levels, including three size fractions of zooplankton, planktivorous fish, and piscivorous fish. The trophic position of each food web component was estimated from N isotope analysis. Trace element concentrations varied widely among taxa, lakes and sampling dates. Yet, we identified four consistent patterns of bioaccumulation that were consistent across lakes: (1) MeHg concentration increased (i.e., was biomagnified) and Pb concentration decreased (i.e., was biodiminished) with increased trophic position. (2) Zinc concentration (as with MeHg) was higher in fish than in zooplankton, but overall variation in Zn concentration (unlike MeHg) was low. (3) Arsenic and Cd concentrations (as with Pb) were lower in fish than in zooplankton, but (unlike Pb) were not significantly correlated with trophic position within zooplankton or fish groups. (4) Average summer concentrations of As, Pb, Hg, and MeHg in zooplankton significantly predicted their concentrations in either planktivorous or piscivorous fish. Our secondary goal was to review sampling approaches in forty-five published studies to determine the extent to which current sampling programs facilitate cross-lake and cross-study comparisons of bioaccumulation. We found that studies include different components of the food web and sample too infrequently to enable strong cross-lake and cross-study comparisons. We discuss sampling strategies that would improve our capacity to identify consistent patterns of bioaccumulation and drivers of elevated trace element concentrations under naturally high levels of variability.
PubMed ID: 22356871
MeSH Terms: Animals; Environmental Monitoring/methods; Fishes/growth & development; Fishes/metabolism; Food Chain; Lakes/chemistry*; Metals, Heavy/analysis*; Metals, Heavy/pharmacokinetics; Methylmercury Compounds/analysis*; Methylmercury Compounds/pharmacokinetics; New England; Trace Elements/analysis*; Trace Elements/pharmacokinetics; Water Pollutants, Chemical/analysis*; Water Pollutants, Chemical/pharmacokinetics; Zooplankton/growth & development; Zooplankton/metabolism