The Influence of Littoral on Mercury Bioaccumulation in a Humic Lake
Concentration of methylmercury (MeHg) in different habitats and associated food chains may vary because of habitat characteristics that determine methylation and MeHg transfer. We examined MeHg levels in primary consumers from littoral, pelagial and profundal habitats of a boreal humic lake, and measured total mercury (TotHg) and MeHg in surface sediments at increasing depths. MeHg concentrations in primary consumers increased from profundal to littoral, a pattern which was mirrored by the surface sediment concentrations. Methylation potential (expressed as the ratio of MeHg to TotHg) was lower in profundal than in littoral sediments, suggesting that littoral sediments have higher net methylation rates. No specific MeHg-enriched entrance point in the littoral food chain was identified, however. High MeHg concentrations in littoral primary consumers and sediments suggest that shallow lake sediments are important for MeHg transfer to the aquatic food web in boreal humic lakes. Lake morphometry, most specifically the fraction of littoral, is hence likely to add to differences in MeHg bioaccumulation rates in lake food webs.
KeywordsMethylmercury Carbon source Food chain Littoral Pelagial Profundal
This work was supported by The Norwegian Institute for Water Research/NIVA (Grant number O-29101) and The Norwegian Research Council (Project number 196295).
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