Date: 03 May 2012

Trophic Transfer Efficiency of Methylmercury and Inorganic Mercury to Lake Trout Salvelinus namaycush from Its Prey

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Abstract

Based on a laboratory experiment, we estimated the net trophic transfer efficiency of methylmercury to lake trout Salvelinus namaycush from its prey to be equal to 76.6 %. Under the assumption that gross trophic transfer efficiency of methylmercury to lake trout from its prey was equal to 80 %, we estimated that the rate at which lake trout eliminated methylmercury was 0.000244 day−1. Our laboratory estimate of methylmercury elimination rate was 5.5 times lower than the value predicted by a published regression equation developed from estimates of methylmercury elimination rates for fish available from the literature. Thus, our results, in conjunction with other recent findings, suggested that methylmercury elimination rates for fish have been overestimated in previous studies. In addition, based on our laboratory experiment, we estimated that the net trophic transfer efficiency of inorganic mercury to lake trout from its prey was 63.5 %. The lower net trophic transfer efficiency for inorganic mercury compared with that for methylmercury was partly attributable to the greater elimination rate for inorganic mercury. We also found that the efficiency with which lake trout retained either methylmercury or inorganic mercury from their food did not appear to be significantly affected by the degree of their swimming activity.