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Spatial and Ontogenetic Variation in Mercury in Lake Superior Basin Sea Lamprey (Petromyzon marinus)

Abstract

Mercury concentrations were measured in eggs, larvae, and adult spawning-phase sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) collected in tributaries of Lake Superior to investigate spatial and ontogenetic variation. There were significant differences in mercury concentrations between all three life stages, with levels highest in adults (mean = 3.01 µg/g), followed by eggs (mean = 0.942 µg/g), and lowest in larvae (mean = 0.455 µg/g). There were no significant differences in mercury concentrations by location for any life stage or by sex in adults. Mercury was not correlated with adult or larval lamprey length or mass. Mercury levels in adult lampreys exceeded U.S. and Canadian federal guidelines for human consumption. Mercury concentrations in all life stages exceeded criteria for the protection of piscivorous wildlife, posing a threat to local fish, birds, and mammals. High mercury levels in adult lampreys combined with their semelparous life history make them a potential source of lake-derived mercury to spawning streams.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank GLIFWC’s Mike Plucinski and his team of interns (Hanna Fiorio, Peter Houle, Jalyn LaBine, Dalton Lebada, and Marissa Neitzke) for performing lamprey collections; Esteban Chiriboga for generating the map of sampling sites; and LSRI staff and students Olivia Anders, Cole Holstrom, and Colton Kennedy for assistance with lamprey mercury analysis. We are grateful to Jonathan Gilbert and John Coleman of GLIFWC and Kelsey Prihoda and Tom Markee of LSRI for providing critical reviews of the manuscript.

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Supporting data for this manuscript can be found at the website of the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (http://www.glifwc.org).

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Correspondence to Christine N. Polkinghorne.

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Moses, S.K., Polkinghorne, C.N., Mattes, W.P. et al. Spatial and Ontogenetic Variation in Mercury in Lake Superior Basin Sea Lamprey (Petromyzon marinus). Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 100, 95–100 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00128-017-2224-1

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Keywords

  • Sea lamprey
  • Mercury
  • Lake Superior
  • Ontogenetics