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Biogeochemistry

, Volume 108, Issue 1–3, pp 335–350 | Cite as

Potential Hg methylation and MeHg demethylation rates related to the nutrient status of different boreal wetlands

  • I. TjerngrenEmail author
  • T. Karlsson
  • E. Björn
  • U. Skyllberg
Article

Abstract

Despite methylmercury (MeHg) production in boreal wetlands being a research focus for decades, little is known about factors in control of methylation and demethylation rates and the effect of wetland type. This is the first study reporting potential Hg methylation (k m ) and MeHg demethylation rate constants (k d ) in boreal wetland soils. Seven wetlands situated in northern and southern Sweden were characterized by climatic parameters, nutrient status (e.g. type of vegetation, pH, C/N ratio, specific UV-absorption), iron and sulfur biogeochemistry. Based on nutrient status, the wetlands were divided into three groups; (I) three northern, nutrient poor fens, (II) a nutrient gradient ranging from an ombrotrophic bog to a fen with intermediate nutrient status, and (III) southern, more nutrient rich sites including two mesotrophic wetlands and one alder (Alnus) forest swamp. The k m /k d ratio in general followed %MeHg in soil and both measures were highest at the fen site with intermediate nutrient status. Northern nutrient poor fens and the ombrotrophic bog showed intermediate values of %MeHg and k m /k d . The two mesotrophic wetlands showed the lowest %MeHg and k m /k d , whereas the alder swamp had high k m and k d , resulting in an intermediate k m /k d and %MeHg. Molybdate addition experiments suggest that net MeHg production was mainly caused by the activity of sulfate reducing bacteria. A comparison with other studies, show that k m and %MeHg in boreal freshwater wetlands in general are higher than in other environments. Our results support previous suggestions that the highest MeHg net production in boreal landscapes is to be found in fens with an intermediate nutrient status.

Keywords

Methylmercury Mercury Wetlands Methylation Demethylation 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Bengt Andersson and Anna Persson, SLU-Umeå, are gratefully acknowledged for assistance in the laboratory. A special thanks to Per Peterson at Sveaskog AB and Torbjörn Åhman, Holmen Skog AB for support throughout the project, and help with selection of wetlands. Anders Rydberg, Ulf Zander, Conny Henriksson and Claes Scholander, Sveaskog AB and Lars-Rune Larsson, Holmen Skog AB, are gratefully acknowledged for their field work. The financial support was provided by The Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (Formas) (Project No. 214-2005-1462), the Oscar & Lili Lamm foundation and the Kempe foundations.

Supplementary material

10533_2011_9603_MOESM1_ESM.doc (168 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 167 kb).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. Tjerngren
    • 1
    Email author
  • T. Karlsson
    • 2
  • E. Björn
    • 2
  • U. Skyllberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Forest Ecology and ManagementSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUmeåSweden
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden

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