Changes in Sport Fish Mercury Concentrations from Food Web Shifts Suggest Partial Decoupling from Atmospheric Deposition in Two Colorado Reservoirs

  • Brian A. Wolff
  • Brett M. Johnson
  • Jesse M. Lepak
Article

Abstract

Partial decoupling of mercury (Hg) loading and observed Hg concentrations ([Hg]) in biotic and abiotic samples has been documented in aquatic systems. We studied two Colorado reservoirs to test whether shifts in prey for sport fish would lead to changes in [Hg] independent of external atmospheric Hg deposition. We compared sport fish total mercury concentrations ([T-Hg]) and macroinvertebrate (chironomids and crayfish) methylmercury concentrations ([MeHg]) before and after food web shifts occurred in both reservoirs. We also monitored wet atmospheric Hg deposition and sediment [T-Hg] and [MeHg] at each reservoir. We found rapid shifts in Hg bioaccumulation in each reservoir’s sport fish, and these changes could not be attributed to atmospheric Hg deposition. Our study shows that trends in atmospheric deposition, environmental samples (e.g., sediments), and samples of species at the low trophic levels (e.g., chironomids and crayfish) may not accurately reflect conditions that result in fish consumption advisories for high trophic level sport fish. We suggest that in the short-term, monitoring fish [Hg] is necessary to adequately protect human health because natural and anthropogenic perturbations to aquatic food-webs that affect [Hg] in sport fish will continue regardless of trends in atmospheric deposition.

References

  1. Blackwell BG, Brown ML, Willis DW (2000) Relative weight (Wr) status and current use in fisheries assessment and management. Rev Fish Sci 8:1–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bloom NS (1992) On the chemical form of mercury in edible fish and marine invertebrate tissue. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 49:1010–1017. doi:10.1139/f92-113 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bodaly RA, Rudd JWM, Fudge RJP, Kelly CA (1993) Mercury concentrations in fish related to size of remote Canadian Shield lakes. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 50:980–987CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brigham ME, Sandheinrich MB, Gay DA, Maki RP, Krabbenhoft DP, Wiener JG (2014) Lacustrine responses to decreasing wet mercury deposition rates—results from a case study in northern Minnesota. Environ Sci Technol 48:6115–6123. doi:10.1021/es500301a CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Clements WH, Hickey CW, Kidd KA (2012) How do aquatic communities respond to contaminants? It depends on the ecological context. Environ Toxicol Chem 31:1932–1940. doi:10.1002/etc.1937 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Coelho JP, Mieiro CL, Pereira E, Duarte AC, Pardal MA (2013) Mercury biomagnification in a contaminated estuary food web: effects of age and trophic position using stable isotope analyses. Mar Pollut Bull 69:110–115. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.01.021 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cross FA, Evans DW, Barber RT (2015) Decadal declines of mercury in adult bluefish (1972–2011) from the Mid-Atlantic coast of the USA. Environ Sci Technol 49:9064–9072. doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b01953 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Davies K (2014) Horsetooth Reservoir: fish survey and management data. Colorado Parks and Wildlife ReportGoogle Scholar
  9. Eagles-Smith CA, Suchanek TH, Colwell AE, Anderson NL, Moyle PB (2008) Changes in fish diets and food web mercury bioaccumulation induced by an invasive planktivorous fish. Ecol Appl 18:A213–A226. doi:10.1890/06-1415.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hammerschmidt CR, Fitzgerald WF (2006) Methylmercury in freshwater fish linked to atmospheric mercury deposition. Environ Sci Technol 40:7764–7770. doi:10.1021/es061480i CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Harris RC, Rudd JWM, Amyot M, Babiarz CL, Beaty KG, Blanchfield PJ, Bodaly RA, Branfireun BA, Gilmour CC, Graydon JA, Heyes A, Hintelmann H, Hurley JP, Kelly CA, Krabbenhoft DP, Lindberg SE, Mason RP, Paterson MJ, Podemski CL, Robinson A, Sandilands KA, Southworth GR, Louis VLS, Tate MT (2007) Whole-ecosystem study shows rapid fish-mercury response to changes in mercury deposition. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104:16586–16591. doi:10.1073/pnas.0704186104 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. James DA, Csargo IJ, Von Eschen A, Thul MD, Baker JM, Hayer CA, Howell J, Krause J, Letvin A, Chipps SR (2012) A generalized model for estimating the energy density of invertebrates. Freshw Sci 31:69–77. doi:10.1899/11-057.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Johnson BM, Goettl JP (1999) Food web changes over fourteen years following introduction of rainbow smelt into a Colorado reservoir. N Am J Fish Manage 19:629–642CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Johnson BM, Martinez PJ (2000) Trophic economics of lake trout management in reservoirs of differing productivity. N Am J Fish Manage 20:127–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Johnson BM, Lepak JM, Wolff BA (2015) Effects of prey assemblage on mercury bioaccumulation in a piscivorous sport fish. Sci Total Environ 506:330–337. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.10.101 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Johnston TA, Leggett WC, Bodaly RA, Swanson HK (2003) Temporal changes in mercury bioaccumulation by predatory fishes of boreal lakes following the invasion of an exotic forage fish. Environ Toxicol Chem 22:2057–2062. doi:10.1897/02-265 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jones MS, Goettl JP, Flickinger SA (1994) Changes in walleye food habits and growth following a rainbow smelt introduction. N Am J Fish Manage 14:409–414CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kannan K, Smith RG, Lee RF, Windom HL, Heitmuller PT, Macauley JM, Summers JK (1998) Distribution of total mercury and methyl mercury in water, sediment, and fish from south Florida estuaries. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 34:109–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kidd KA, Hesslein RH, Fudge RJP, Hallard KA (1995) The influence of trophic level as measured by delta-n-15 on mercury concentrations in freshwater organisms. Water Air Soil Pollut 80:1011–1015. doi:10.1007/Bf01189756 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lavoie RA, Hebert CE, Rail JF, Braune BM, Yumvihoze E, Hill LG, Lean DRS (2010) Trophic structure and mercury distribution in a Gulf of St. Lawrence (Canada) food web using stable isotope analysis. Sci Total Environ 408:5529–5539. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.07.053 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lepak JM, Johnson BM (2010) Bioaccumulation of mercury in aquatic food webs: integrating research and management towards remediation. Colorado Parks and Wildlife ReportGoogle Scholar
  22. Lepak JM, Robinson JM, Kraft CE, Josephson DC (2009) Changes in mercury bioaccumulation in an apex predator in response to removal of an introduced competitor. Ecotoxicology 18:488–498. doi:10.1007/s10646-009-0306-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lepak JM, Hooten MB, Johnson BM (2012a) The influence of external subsidies on diet, growth and Hg concentrations of freshwater sport fish: implications for management and fish consumption advisories. Ecotoxicology 21:1878–1888. doi:10.1007/s10646-012-0921-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lepak JM, Kinzli KD, Fetherman ER, Pate WM, Hansen AG, Gardunio EI, Cathcart CN, Stacy WL, Underwood ZE, Brandt MM, Myrick CA, Johnson BM (2012b) Manipulation of growth to reduce mercury concentrations in sport fish on a whole-system scale. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 69:122–135. doi:10.1139/f2011-136 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mason RP, Lawrence AL (1999) Concentration, distribution, and bioavailability of mercury and methylmercury in sediments of Baltimore Harbor and Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, USA. Environ Toxicol Chem 18:2438–2447. doi:10.1897/1551-5028(1999)018<2438:Cdabom>2.3.Co;2 Google Scholar
  26. Mergler D, Anderson HA, Chan LHM, Mahaffey KR, Murray M, Sakamoto M, Stern AH (2007) Methylmercury exposure and health effects in humans: a worldwide concern. Ambio 36:3–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mikac N, Niessen S, Ouddane B, Wartel M (1999) Speciation of mercury in sediments of the Seine estuary (France). Appl Organomet Chem 13:715–725CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Momot WT (1995) Redefining the role of crayfish in aquatic ecosystems. Rev Fish Sci 3:33–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Poste AE, Muir DCG, Guildford SJ, Hecky RE (2015) Bioaccumulation and biomagnification of mercury in African lakes: the importance of trophic status. Sci Total Environ 506:126–136. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.10.094 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Power M, Klein GM, Guiguer KRRA, Kwan MKH (2002) Mercury accumulation in the fish community of a sub-arctic lake in relation to trophic position and carbon sources. J Appl Ecol 39:819–830CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Shade CW (2008) Automated simultaneous analysis of monomethyl and mercuric Hg in biotic samples by Hg-thiourea complex liquid chromatography following acidic thiourea leaching. Environ Sci Technol 42:6604–6610. doi:10.1021/es800187y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sorensen JA, Glass GE, Schmidt KW, Huber JK, Rapp GR (1990) Airborne mercury deposition and watershed characteristics in relation to mercury concentrations in water, sediments, plankton, and fish of 80 northern Minnesota lakes. Environ Sci Technol 24:1716–1727. doi:10.1021/Es00081a015 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Stein RA (1977) Selective predation, optimal foraging, and predator-prey interaction between fish and crayfish. Ecology 58:1237–1253. doi:10.2307/1935078 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Suchanek TH, Eagles-Smith CA, Harner EJ (2008) Is Clear Lake methylmercury distribution decoupled from bulk mercury loading? Ecol Appl 18:A107–A127. doi:10.1890/06-1649.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. UNEP (2002) Global mercury assessment. United Nations Environmental Program http://www.uneporg/gc/gc22/Document/UNEP-GC22-INF3pdf. Accessed 16 Jan 2016
  36. USEPA (2000) Guidance for assessing chemical contaminant data for use in fish advisories. US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, EPA 823-B-00-007 1Google Scholar
  37. USEPA (2009) Guidance for implementing the January 2001 methylmercury water quality criterion. EPA 823-R-09-002 US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  38. Wiener JG, Knights BC, Sandheinrich MB, Jeremiason JD, Brigham ME, Engstrom DR, Woodruff LG, Cannon WF, Balogh SJ (2006) Mercury in soils, lakes, and fish in Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota): importance of atmospheric deposition and ecosystem factors. Environ Sci Technol 40:6261–6268. doi:10.1021/es060822h CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wright B (2010) Elkhead Reservoir: fish survey and management information. Colorado Parks and Wildlife ReportGoogle Scholar
  40. Wydoski RS, Bennett DH (1981) Forage species in lakes and reservoirs of the western United States. Trans Am Fish Soc 110:764–771. doi:10.1577/1548-8659(1981)110<764:fsilar>2.0.co;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Zillioux EJ (2015) Mercury in fish: history, sources, pathways, effects, and indicator usage. In: Environmental indicators. Springer, Berlin, pp 743–766Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation BiologyColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.New York Sea Grant ExtensionSUNY OswegoOswegoUSA

Personalised recommendations