, Volume 20, Issue 7, pp 1487–1499 | Cite as

Mercury in the Great Lakes region: bioaccumulation, spatiotemporal patterns, ecological risks, and policy

  • David C. EversEmail author
  • James G. Wiener
  • Niladri Basu
  • R. A. Bodaly
  • Heather A. Morrison
  • Kathryn A. Williams


This special issue examines bioaccumulation and risks of methylmercury in food webs, fish and wildlife in the Laurentian Great Lakes region of North America, and explores mercury policy in the region and elsewhere in the United States and Canada. A total of 35 papers emanated from a bi-national synthesis of multi-media data from monitoring programs and research investigations on mercury in aquatic and terrestrial biota, a 3-year effort involving more than 170 scientists and decision-makers from 55 different universities, non-governmental organizations, and governmental agencies. Over 290,000 fish mercury data points were compiled from monitoring programs and research investigations. The findings from this scientific synthesis indicate that (1) mercury remains a pollutant of major concern in the Great Lakes region, (2) that the scope and intensity of the problem is greater than previously recognized and (3) that after decades of declining mercury levels in fish and wildlife concentrations are now increasing in some species and areas. While the reasons behind these shifting trends require further study, they also underscore the need to identify information gaps and expand monitoring efforts to better track progress. This will be particularly important as new pollution prevention measures are implemented, as global sources increase, and as the region faces changing environmental conditions.


Laurentian Great Lakes Mercury Monitoring Spatiotemporal trends Fish Wildlife 



Compilation, synthesis, and interpretation of the regional data reported in this special issue were supported in part by the Great Lakes Commission, though a Great Lakes Air Deposition (GLAD) Program grant to the Biodiversity Research Institute. JGW was supported by the University of Wisconsin System Distinguished Professors Program and the UW-L Foundation during preparation of this manuscript. We are grateful to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and the University of Michigan for hosting the project workshops. We thank ESRI for their donations of software, which facilitated the compilation of data at the Biodiversity Research Institute and the subsequent analysis for several manuscripts. This synthesis would not have possible without the sharing of mercury data by state, provincial, and federal agencies and by scientists in academic and nongovernmental organizations. We thank Madeline Turnquist for assistance with figures and for constructive comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript. Thank you Ed Swain (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) for introducing the idea of a regional mercury synthesis effort for the Great Lakes with Jon Dettling (Great Lakes Commission). This special issue is dedicated to the memory of Gerald Keeler and the many great contributions he made toward better understanding mercury in the aerosphere.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • David C. Evers
    • 1
    Email author
  • James G. Wiener
    • 2
  • Niladri Basu
    • 3
  • R. A. Bodaly
    • 4
  • Heather A. Morrison
    • 5
  • Kathryn A. Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.Biodiversity Research InstituteGorhamUSA
  2. 2.University of Wisconsin-La CrosseRiver Studies CenterLa CrosseUSA
  3. 3.University of Michigan School of Public HealthDepartment of Environmental Health SciencesAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.Penobscot River Mercury StudyBritish ColumbiaCanada
  5. 5.Environment CanadaDownsviewCanada

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