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Publication Detail

Title: Impacts of zooplankton composition and algal enrichment on the accumulation of mercury in an experimental freshwater food web.

Authors: Pickhardt, Paul C; Folt, Carol L; Chen, Celia Y; Klaue, Bjoern; Blum, Joel D

Published In Sci Total Environ, (2005 Mar 1)

Abstract: There is a well documented accumulation of mercury in fish to concentrations of concern for human consumption. Variation in fish Hg burden between lakes is often high and may result from differences in Hg transfer through lower levels of the food web where mercury is bioconcentrated to phytoplankton and transferred to herbivorous zooplankton. Prior research derived patterns of mercury accumulation in freshwater invertebrates from field collected animals. This study provides results from controlled mesocosm experiments comparing the effects of zooplankton composition, algal abundance, and the chemical speciation of mercury on the ability of zooplankton to accumulate mercury from phytoplankton and transfer that mercury to planktivores. Experiments were conducted in 550-L mesocosms across a gradient of algal densities manipulated by inorganic nutrient additions. Enriched, stable isotopes of organic (CH3(200HgCl)) and inorganic (201HgCl2) mercury were added to mesocosms and their concentrations measured in water, seston, and three common zooplankton species. After 2 weeks, monomethylmercury (MMHg) concentrations were two to three times lower in the two copepod species, Leptodiaptomus minutus and Mesocyclops edax than in the cladoceran, Daphnia mendotae. All three zooplankton species had higher MMHg concentrations in mesocosms with low versus high initial algal abundance. However, despite higher concentrations of inorganic mercury (HgI) in seston from low nutrient mesocosms, there were no significant differences in the HgI accumulated by zooplankton across nutrient treatments. Bioaccumulation factors for MMHg in the plankton were similar to those calculated for plankton in natural lakes and a four-compartment (aqueous, seston, macrozooplankton, and periphyton/sediments) mass balance model after 21 days accounted for approximately 18% of the CH3(200Hg) and approximately 33% of the 201Hg added. Results from our experiments corroborate results from field studies and suggest the importance of particular zooplankton herbivores (e.g., Daphnia) in the transfer of Hg to higher trophic levels in aquatic food webs.

PubMed ID: 15740761 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: Algae/metabolism*; Animals; Comparative Study; Copepoda/classification; Copepoda/metabolism; Food Chain*; Fresh Water; Humans; Iodides/metabolism; Isotopes; Mercury/metabolism*; Methylmercury Compounds/metabolism; Nutrition; Phosphorus/metabolism; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.; Species Specificity; Time Factors; Water Pollutants, Chemical/metabolism*; Zooplankton/metabolism*

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