Marine Biology

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 267-276

Factors affecting methyl and inorganic mercury dynamics in mussels and shrimp

  • S. W. FowlerAffiliated withInternational Laboratory of Marine Radioactivity, Musée Océanographique
  • , M. HeyraudAffiliated withInternational Laboratory of Marine Radioactivity, Musée Océanographique
  • , J. La RosaAffiliated withInternational Laboratory of Marine Radioactivity, Musée Océanographique

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Radiotracer experiments were designed to study the effect of certain factors on the accumulation and loss of methyl and inorganic mercury in mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis) and benthic shrimp (Lysmata seticaudata). Methyl mercury was accumulated from both food and water to a greater degree than inorganic mercury by both species. There was a tendency for small mussels to concentrate more mercury than larger individuals, but the reason for this difference remains unclear. A trend towards greater mercury accumulation at higher temperatures was noted for mussels, but the temperature effect was relatively small over a 10 Co range between 8° and 19°C. Methyl mercury residues were eliminated by both species more slowly than those of the inorganic form. Loss from mussels was somewhat more rapid at higher temperatures; however, as in the case of accumulation, the effect of temperature was relatively small. Loss rates for small mussels were not significantly different from those for large individuals. Enhanced methyl mercury elimination was noted for the group of mussels maintained in their natural environment. The more rapid metal turnover in these individuals compared with mussels held in the laboratory was attributed to differences in the availability of natural particulate food matter and, hence, subsequent growth of the animals in the two experimental systems. The observed differences underscore the need for caution in predicting in situ flux of metals such as mercury in certain species based solely on data derived from laboratory experiments.