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Trace Elements in Plankton, Benthic Organisms, and Forage Fish of Lake Moreno, Northern Patagonia, Argentina


The Northern Patagonian Andean range shared by Chile and Argentina has numerous glacial oligotrophic lakes protected in a series of National Parks. Recent baseline surveys indicated that concentrations in muscle and liver tissues from various fish species from across Nahuel Huapi and Los Alerces National Parks in Argentina were comparable or higher than similar fish species from other parts of the world. As a result, Lake Moreno, in Nahuel Huapi National Park, was chosen to investigate multiple element sinks, trends, and transfer in a representative Patagonia aquatic food web. The metals and metalloids Ag, As, Ba, Br, Cs, Co, Cr, Fe, Hg, K, Na, Rb, Se, and Zn were analyzed in three size plankton fractions, submerged macrophytes, biofilm, insect larvae, amphipods, decapods, gastropods (snails), annelids (earthworms), and forage fish. Except for nanoplankton (10–53 μm; small-celled algae, rotifers) and microplankton (53–200 μm; larger algae, ciliates, zooplankton nauplii), which share elemental compositional similarities, each taxon category had its own distinctive compositional pattern, revealed by principal component analysis. Nano- and microplankton tend to be relatively elevated in some metals, including As, Co, Cr, Fe, Hg, Zn, and Rb, followed by biofilm. Shredder-scrapper Trichoptera (caddisflies) have higher concentration of most of the studied elements than other insect larvae taxa, especially carnivorous Odonata (Anisoptera, dragonflies), which were associated with lower elemental contents. Those trends point to an overall tendency for biodiminishing element concentrations with trophic level in the benthos of Lake Moreno.

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We acknowledge the assistance of Mr. Ricardo Sánchez in all the field work, Dr. M. Diéguez and Dr. C. Queimaliños for their help with the plankton samplers, Dr. R. Daga for the site characterization, Mr. J. Pérez during plankton sampling, and the RA-6 reactor staff for the irradiation of the samples. This work was partially funded by projects PICT2005 33838 and PICT2006 1051 of the ANPCyT (Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Técnológica) of Argentina.

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Correspondence to Maria A. Arribére.

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Arribére, M.A., Campbell, L.M., Rizzo, A.P. et al. Trace Elements in Plankton, Benthic Organisms, and Forage Fish of Lake Moreno, Northern Patagonia, Argentina. Water Air Soil Pollut 212, 167–182 (2010).

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  • Metals
  • Aquatic food web
  • Lake Moreno
  • Functional feeding groups