, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 341–346 | Cite as

Annual flooding and fish-mercury bioaccumulation in the environmentally impacted Rio Madeira (Amazon)

  • Wanderley R. Bastos
  • Ronaldo de Almeida
  • José G. Dórea
  • Antonio C. Barbosa


Regular annual flooding of the Amazonian rivers changes the aquatic environment affecting fish feeding strategies. The Rio Madeira has been greatly impacted by deforestation for agricultural projects, damming for a hydroelectric power plant, and alluvial gold extraction. We studied fish-Hg concentrations within defined weight ranges of representative species at the top of the food web, comparing high and low water seasons. Selected piscivorous species (Cichla spp, Hoplias malabaricus, Pinirampus pirinampu, Serrasalmus spp) showed a large variation of Hg concentrations but only “traíra” (Hoplias malabaricus) showed a statistically significant difference between seasons. However, the bioaccumulation trends during high and low waters were similar for “tucunaré” (Cichla spp) and “traíra” (Hoplias malabaricus) but different for “piranhas” (Serrasalmus spp), “barba chata” (Pinirampus pirinampu) and the detritivorous Prochilodus nigricans. Fish-Hg bioaccumulation is species specific; changes in feeding strategies brought by flooding seasons can change the bioaccumulation pattern without systematically affecting the overall accrual of methylmercury in tertiary consumer species. It appears that naturally occurring Hg and the high sediment load of the Rio Madeira are secondary factors in the Hg bioaccumulation pattern of fish species at the top of the food chain.


Inundation Floodplain Fish Hg Gold mining 



This work was partly supported by the National Research Council of Brazil-CNPq (PPG7, project-556985/2005-2).


  1. Almeida MD, Lacerda LD, Bastos WR, Herrmann JC (2005) Mercury loss from soils following conversion from forest to pasture in Rondonia, Western Amazon, Brazil. Environ Pollut 137:179–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barbosa AC, Souza JR, Dórea JG, Jardim W, Fadini P (2003) Mercury biomagnification in tropical black water, the Rio Negro, Brazil. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 45:235–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bastos WR, Malm Olaf, Pfeiffer WC, Cleary D (1998) Establishment and analytical quality control of laboratories for Hg determination in biological and geological samples in the Amazon, Brasil. Ciênc Cult 50:255–260Google Scholar
  4. Bastos WR, Gomes JP, Oliveira RC, Almeida R, Nascimento EL, Bernardi JVE, Lacerda LD, Silveira EG, Pfeiffer WC (2006) Mercury in the environment and riverside population in the Madeira River Basin, Amazon, Brazil. Sci Total Environ 368:344–351 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. CPRM (2002) Companhia de Pesquisa de Recursos Minerais. Serviço Geológico do Brasil—Perspectivas do Meio Ambiente do Brasil; Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, pp 27Google Scholar
  6. Dorea JG (2003) Fish are central in the diet of Amazonian riparians: should we worry about their mercury concentrations? Environ Res 92:232–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dorea JG, Barbosa AC, Silva GS (2006) Fish-mercury bioaccumulation as a function of feeding behavior and hydrological cycles of the Rio Negro, Amazon. Comp Biochem Physiol 142:275–283Google Scholar
  8. Dorea JG, Barbosa AC (2007) Anthropogenic impact of mercury accumulation in fish from the Rio Madeira and Rio Negro Rivers (Amazonia). Biol Tr El Res (in press)Google Scholar
  9. Goulding M, Carvalho ML, Ferreira EG (1988) Rio Negro: rich life in poor water: Amazonian diversity and floodplain ecology as seen through fish communities. SPB Academic Publishing The Hague, p 200Google Scholar
  10. Gragson TL (1992) Fishing the waters of Amazônia: Native subsistence economies in a tropical rain forest. Am Anthrop 94:428–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Guimaraes JR, Roulet M, Lucotte M, Mergler D (2000) Mercury methylation along a lake-forest transect in the Tapajós river floodplain, Brazilian Amazon: seasonal and vertical variations. Sci Total Environ 261:91–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Junk WJ (1985) Temporary fat storage, an adaptation of some fish species to the water level fluctuations and related environmental changes of the Amazon River. Amazoniana 9:315–351Google Scholar
  13. Latrubesse EM, Stevaux JC, Sinha R (2005) Tropical rivers. Geomorphology 70:187–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lechler PJ, Miller JR, Lacerda LD, Vinson D, Bonzongo JC, Lyons WB, Warwick JJ (2000) Elevated mercury concentrations in soils, sediments, water, and fish of the Madeira River Basin, Brazilian Amazon: a function of natural enrichment? Sci Total Environ 260:87–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Mailman M, Stepnuk L, Cicek N, Bodaly RA (2006) Strategies to lower methyl mercury concentrations in hydroelectric reservoirs and lakes: A review. Sci Total Environ 368:224–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Malm O, Pfeiffer WC, Bastos WR, Souza CMM (1989) Utilização do Acessório de Geração de Vapor Frio para Análise de Mercúrio em Investigações Ambientais por Espectrofotometria de Absorção Atômica. Ciênc Cult 41:88–92Google Scholar
  17. Malm O, Guimarães JRD, Castro MB, Bastos WR, Viana JP, Branches FJP, Silveira EG, Pfeiffer WC (1997) Follow-up of mercury levels in fish, human hair and urine in the Madeira and Tapajós basins, Amazon, Brazil. Water Air Soil Pollut 97:45–51Google Scholar
  18. Maurice-Bourgoin L, Quiroga I, Chincheros J, Courau P (2000) Mercury distribution in waters and fishes of the upper Madeira rivers and mercury exposure in riparian Amazonian populations. Sci Total Environ 260:73–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Sampaio da Silva D, Lucotte M, Roulet M, Poirier H, Mergler D, Oliveira Santos E, Crossa M (2005) Trophic structure and bioaccumulation of mercury in fish of three natural lakes of the Brazilian Amazon. Water Air Soil Pollut 165:77–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Santos GM, Ferreira EJG, Jegu M (1991) Catálogo dos Peixes do Rio Jamari, Rondônia. Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia/INPA. Manaus, Amazonas, 123Google Scholar
  21. Valle CM, Santana GP, Augusti R, Egreja Filho FB, Windmoller CC (2005) Speciation and quantification of mercury in Oxisol, Ultisol, and Spodosol from Amazon (Manaus, Brazil). Chemosphere 58:779–792CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wanderley R. Bastos
    • 1
  • Ronaldo de Almeida
    • 1
  • José G. Dórea
    • 2
  • Antonio C. Barbosa
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratório de Biogeoquímica AmbientalUniversidade Federal de RondôniaPorto VelhoBrazil
  2. 2.Faculdade de Ciências da SaúdeUniversidade de BrasíliaBrasiliaBrazil
  3. 3.Instituto de QuímicaUniversidade de BrasíliaBrasiliaBrazil

Personalised recommendations