Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 168, Issue 1, pp 385-396

First online:

Mercury accumulation in caged Corbicula: rate of uptake and seasonal variation

  • Douglas S. G. NeufeldAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Eastern Mennonite University Email author 

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The uptake and seasonal fluctuations of total mercury were followed in caged and uncaged Asiatic clams, Corbicula fluminea, over a 1-year period in South River, Virginia. Mercury was rapidly accumulated in clams transplanted from a nominally uncontaminated site into cages on the contaminated South River, reaching 0.99 μg g − 1 dry mass within the first month. Resident clams moved to cages had higher mercury contents after the first month (2.04 μg g − 1 dry mass) and at all subsequent times in the study. Large monthly fluctuations in mercury were noted for both resident caged and transplant caged clams with a notable peak occurring in early spring (4.31 μg g − 1 dry mass in resident caged clams). Tissue mass of caged clams steadily increased through the winter and early spring. Adjustment of mercury concentrations for tissue mass changes indicated that the changes in mercury contents were primarily due to uptake/release rather than changes in tissue mass (concentration/dilution). The present study demonstrates the utility of using caged Corbicula as mercury biomonitors and illustrates the importance of accounting for large, short-term changes of mercury content in Corbicula when designing long-term biomonitoring studies.


Corbicula Mercury Biomonitoring Bivalve