Water, Air and Soil Pollution: Focus

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 209–232 | Cite as

Mercury and Organochlorine Contamination in Brown Trout (Salmo Trutta) and Arctic Charr (Salvelinus Alpinus) from High Mountain Lakes in Europe and the Svalbard Archipelago

  • S. RognerudEmail author
  • J. O. Grimalt
  • B. O. Rosseland
  • P. Fernandez
  • R. Hofer
  • R. Lackner
  • B. Lauritzen
  • L. Lien
  • J. C. Massabuau
  • A. Ribes


High concentration of Hg, less volatile PCB congeners and p,p′-DDE in Arctic charr from an arctic lake was mainly causedby biomagnification in the food chain where cannibalism was thedriving force. We suggest that low sediment fluxes of Hg, low net production of methyl mercury, and short food chains excludingpiscivory explain the low levels of Hg in the invertebrate feeding fish population in five European high mountain lakes.Concentrations of less volatile PCB congeners in insectivorous fish populations from the European high mountain lakes were mainly influenced by fish age and atmospheric deposition, indicated by the sediment inventory. Atmospheric deposition influenced by local sources may explain the higher concentrationsof pesticides (p,p′-DDT, p,p′-DDE and γ-HCH) observedin fish from the Pyrenees compared to the other sites. Theconcentrations of Hg and organochlorines did not exceedthe guidelines for fish consumption, except for Hg levelsin the oldest fish from the arctic lake.

fish high mountain lakes mercury organochlorines 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ayotte, P., Dawailly, E., Bruneauu, S., Careau, H. and Vezina, A.: 1995, 'Arctic air pollution and human health: What effects should be expected?' Sci. Tot. Environ. 160/161, 529–537.Google Scholar
  2. Blais, J. M., Schindler, D. W., Muir, D. C. G., Donald, D. B. and Rosenberg, B.: 1998, 'Accumulation of persistent organochlorine compounds in mountains of western Canada', Nature 395, 585–588.Google Scholar
  3. Bodaly, R. A., Rudd, J. W. M., Fudge, R. J. P. and Kelly, C. A.: 1993, 'Mercury concentrations in fish related to size of remote Canadian Shield Lakes', Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 50, 980–987.Google Scholar
  4. Breivik, K., Pacyna, J. M. and Munch, J.: 1999, 'Use of α-, β-and γ-hexachlorocyclohexane in Europe, 1970–1996', Sci. Total Environ. 239, 151–163.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Braune, B., Muir, D., DeMarch, B., Gamberg, M., Poole, K., Currie, R., Dodd, M., Duschenko, W., Eamer, F., Elkin, B., Evans, M., Grundy, S., Hebert, C., Johnstone, R., Kidd, K., Koenig, B., Lockhart, L., Marshall, H., Reimer, K., Sanderson, J. and Shutt, L.: 1999, 'Spatial and temporal trends of contaminants in Canadian Arctic freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems: A review', Sci. Total Environ. 230, 145–207.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Cabana, G. and Rasmussen, J. R.: 1996, 'Comparison of aquatic food chains using nitrogen isotopes', Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 93, 10844–10847.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Campbell, L. M., Schindler, D. W., Muir, D. C. G., Donald, D. B. and Kidd, K. A.: 2000, 'Organo-chlorine transfer in the food web of subalpine Bow Lake, Banff National Park', Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 57, 1258–1269.Google Scholar
  8. Clark, K. E. and Mackay, D.: 1991, 'Dietary uptake and biomagnification of four chlorinated hydrocarbons by guppies', Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 10, 1205–1217.Google Scholar
  9. de March, B. G. E., de Wit, C. A. and Muir, D. C. G.: 1998, 'Persistent Organic Pollutants', in S. J. Wilson, J. L. Murray and H. P. Huntington (eds), AMAP Assesment Report: Arctic Pollution Issues, Arctic monitoring assessment programme (AMAP), Oslo, Norway, pp. 183–373.Google Scholar
  10. DeNiro, M. J. and Epstein, S.: 1978, 'Influence of diet on the distribution of carbon isotopes in animales', Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 42, 495–506.Google Scholar
  11. Estep, M. L. F. and Wigg, S.: 1985, 'Stable carbon and nitrogenisotope tracers of trophic dynamics in natural populations and fisheries of the Lahontan Lake system, Nevada', Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 42, 1712–1719.Google Scholar
  12. Fisk, A. T., Norstrom, R. J., Cymbalisty, C. D. and Muir, D. C. G.: 1998, 'Dietary accumulation and depuration of hydrophobic organochlorines: Bioaccumulation parameters and their relationship with the octanol/water partition coefficient', Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 17, 951–961.Google Scholar
  13. Fjeld, E. and Rognerud, S.: 1993, 'Use of path anaysis to investigate mercury accumulation in brown trout (Salmo trutta) in Norway and the influence of environmental factors', Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 50, 1158–1167.Google Scholar
  14. Fjeld, E., Rognerud, S. and Steinnes, E.: 1994, 'Influence of environmental factors on heavy metal concentration in lake sediments in southern Norway, indicated by path analysis', Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 51, 1708–1720.Google Scholar
  15. France, R. L.: 1995, 'Differentiation between littoral and pelagic food webs in lakes using stable carbon isotopes', Limnol. Oceanogr. 40, 1310–1313.Google Scholar
  16. France, R. L.: 1997, 'Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic evidence for ecotonal coupling between boreal forests and fishes', Ecology Freshw. Fish 6, 78–87.Google Scholar
  17. Fry, B. and Sherr, E. B.: 1984, '13C measurements as indicators of carbon flow in marine and freshwater ecosystems', Contrib. Mar. Sci. 27, 13–27.Google Scholar
  18. Gobas, F. A. P. C., Zhang, X. and Wells, R.: 1993, 'Gastrointestinal magnification: The mechanism of biomagnification and food chain accumulation of organic chemicals', Environ. Sci. Technol. 27, 2855–2863.Google Scholar
  19. Grimalt, J. O., Berdie, L., Fernandez, P., Vilanova, R. M., Catalan, J., Psenner, R., Hofer, R., Appelby, P. G., Lien, L., Rosseland, B. O., Massabuau, J. C. and Batterbee, R. W.: 2001, 'Selective trapping of organochlorine compounds in mountain lakes of temperate areas', Environ. Sci. Technol. 35, 2690–2697.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Hammer, J., Larsson, P. and Klavins, M.: 1993, 'Accumulation of persistent pollutants in normal and dwarfed arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus sp. complex). Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 50, 2574–2580.Google Scholar
  21. Haugen, J. E., Wania, F., Ritter, N. and Schlabach, M.: 1998, 'Hexachlorocyclohexanes in air in southern Norway. Temporal variation, source allocation, and temperature dependence', Environ. Sci. Technol. 32, 217–224.Google Scholar
  22. Heaton, T. H. E.: 1987, 'The 15N/14N ratios of plants in South Africa and Namibia: Relationship to climate and coastal/saline environments', Oecologia 74, 236–246.Google Scholar
  23. Hecky, R. E. and Hesslein, R. H.: 1995, 'Contributions of benthic algae to lake food webs as revealed by stable isotope analysis', J. N. Am. Benthol. Soc. 14, 631–653.Google Scholar
  24. Hesslein, R. H., Capel, M. J., Fox, D. E. and Hallard, K. A.: 1991, 'Stable isotopes of sulfur, carbon, nitrogen as indicators of trophic level and fish migration in the lower Mackenzie River Basin, Canada', Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 48, 2258–2265.Google Scholar
  25. Hobson, K. A. and Welch, H. E.: 1995, 'Cannibalism and trophic structure in a high Arctic lake: Insights from stable-isotope analysis', Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 52, 1195–1201.Google Scholar
  26. Jackson, T. A.: 1997, 'Long-range atmospheric transport of mercury to ecosystems, and the importance of anthropogenic emissions — A critical review and evaluation of the published evidence', Environ. Rev. 5, 99–120.Google Scholar
  27. Johansson, K.: 1985, 'Mercury in sediment in Swedish forest lakes', Verh.Int.Ver.Theor.Angew. Limnol. 22, 2359–2363.Google Scholar
  28. Kidd, K. A., Schindler, D. W., Muir, D. C. G., Lockhart, W. L. and Hesslein, R. H.: 1995, 'High concentrations of toxaphene in fish from a subarctic lake', Science 269, 240–242.Google Scholar
  29. Kidd, K. A., Schindler, D. W., Hesslein, R. H. and Muir, D. C. G.: 1998a, 'Effects of trophic position and lipid on organochlorine concentrations in fishes from subarctic lakes in Yukon Territory', Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 55, 869–881.Google Scholar
  30. Kidd, K. A., Hesslein, R. H., Ross, B. J., Koczanski, K., Stephens, G. R. and Muir, D. C. G.: 1998b, 'Bioaccumulation of organochlorines through a remote freshwater food web in the Canadian Arctic', Environ. Pollut. 102, 91–103.Google Scholar
  31. Kiriluk, R. M., Servos, M. R., Whittle, D. M., Cabana, G., and Rasmussen, J. R.: 1995, 'Using ratios of stable nitrogen and carbon isotopes to characterize the biomagnification of DDE, mirex, and PCB in a lake Ontario pelagic food web. 1995', Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 52, 2660–2674.Google Scholar
  32. Lockhart, W. L, Wilkinson, P., Billeck, B. N., Hunt, R. V., Wagemann, R. and Brunskill, G. J.: 1995, 'Current and historical inputs of mercury to high-latitude lakes in Canada and to Hudson Bay', Water, Air, and Soil Pollut. 80, 603–610.Google Scholar
  33. Meili, M., Fry, B. and Kling, G. W.: 1993, 'Fractionation of stable isotopes (13C, 15C) in food web of a humic lake', Verh. Internat. Verein. Limnol. 25, 501–505.Google Scholar
  34. Muir, D., Ford, C. A., Grift, N. P., Metner, D. A. and Lockhart, W. L.: 1990, 'Geographic variation of chlorinated hydrocarbons in burbot (Lota lota) from remote lakes and rivers in Canada', Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 27, 1201–1210.Google Scholar
  35. Ottar, B.: 1981, 'The transfer of airborne pollutants to the Arctic region', Atmos. Environ. 15, 1439–1445.Google Scholar
  36. Peterson, B. J. and Fry, B.: 1987, 'Stable isotopes in ecosystem studies', Ann. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 18, 293–320.Google Scholar
  37. Ramlal, P. S., Kelly, C. A., Rudd, J. W. M. and Furutani, A.: 1993, 'Sites of methyl mercury production in remote Canadien Shield lakes', Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 50, 972–979.Google Scholar
  38. Rognerud, S., Skotvold, T., Fjeld, E., Norton, S. A. and Hobæk, A.: 1998, 'Concentrations of trace elements in recent and preindustrial sediments from Norwegian and Russian Arctic lakes', Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 55, 1512–1523.Google Scholar
  39. Rognerud, S. and Fjeld, E.: 1993, 'Regional survey of heavy metals in lake sediments in Norway', Ambio 22, 206–212.Google Scholar
  40. Rosseland, B. O., Rognerud, S., Massabuau, J.-C., Hofer, R. and Grimalt, J.: 1997, 'MOLAR. Protocol for Fish Sampling: Testfishing, Fish Physiology, Fish Histology, Heavy Metals and Organic Micropollutants', (pp. 149–166), in B. Wathne and H. Hansen (eds), MOLAR. Project Manual. Measuring and Modelling the Dynamic Response of Remote Mountain Lake Ecosystems to Environmental Change, A programme of Montain Lake Research, MOLAR. NIVA-Report, Serial No. 3710-97, 179 pp.Google Scholar
  41. Rosseland, B. O., Massabuau, J.-C., Grimalt, J., Hofer, R., Lackner, R., Rognerud, S. and Lien, L.: 1999, 'The ecophysiology and ecotoxicology of fishes as a tool for monitoring and management strategy of high mountain lakes and lakes and rivers in acidified areas', Zoology 190, 90–100.Google Scholar
  42. Schindler, D.: 1999, 'From acid rain to toxic snow', Ambio 28, 350–355.Google Scholar
  43. Sellers, P., Kelly, C. A., Rudd, J. W. M. and MacHutchon, A. R.: 1996, 'Photodegradation of methyl mercury in lakes', Nature 380, 694–697.Google Scholar
  44. Sijm, D. T. H. M., Seinen, V. and Opperhulzen, A.: 1992, 'Life-cycle biomagnification study in fish', Environ. Sci. Technol. 26, 2162–2174.Google Scholar
  45. Skotvold, T., Wartena, E. M. M., Christensen, G. N., Fjeld, E. and Schlabach, M.: 1999, 'Organochlorine Contaminants in Biota and Sediment from Lakes on Bear Island', Report 764/99, Norwegian State Pollution Control Authority, Oslo, Norway, 51 pp.Google Scholar
  46. Slemr, F. and Langer, E.: 1992, 'Increase in global atmospheric concentrations of mercury inferred from measurements over the Atlantic Ocean', Nature (London) 355, 434–437.Google Scholar
  47. St. Louis, V. L., Rudd, J. W. M., Kelly, C. A., Beaty, K. G., Flett, R. J. and Roule, N. T.: 1996, 'Production and loss of methylmercury and loss of total mercury from boreal forest catchments containing different types of wetlands', Environ. Sci. Technol. 30, 2719–2729.Google Scholar
  48. Svenning, M. A. and Borgstrøm, R.: 1995, 'Population structure in landlocked Spitsbergen arctic charr. Sustained by cannibalism?', Nordic J. Fresh. Res. 71, 424–431.Google Scholar
  49. Ter Braak, C. J. F. and Prentice, I. C.: 1988, 'A theory of gradient analysis', Adv. Ecol. Res. 18, 271–317.Google Scholar
  50. Van Dijk, H. F. G. and Guicherit, R.: 1999, 'Atmospheric dispersion of current-use pesticides: A review of the evidence from monitoring studies', Water, Air, and Soil Pollut. 115, 21–70.Google Scholar
  51. Virginia, R. A. and Delwiche, C. C.: 1982, 'Natural 15N abundance of presumed N2-fixing and non-N2-fixing plants from selected ecosystems', Oecologia 54, 317–325.Google Scholar
  52. Wania, F.: 1996, 'Speculations on the Vulnerability of Polar Ecosystems Towards Persistent Organic Pollutants: An Attempt at Polar Ecotoxicology', in R. G. Shearer (ed.), Global Significance of the Transport and Accumulation of Polychlorinated Hydrocarbons in the Arctic, Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  53. Wathne, B. M., Patrick, S. and Cameron, N. (eds): 1997, 'AL:PE Acidification of Mountain Lakes: Paleololimnology and Ecology. Part 2: Remote Mountain Lakes as Indicators of Air Pollution and Climate Change', Report 3538-97, Norwegian Institute for Water Research, Oslo, 204 pp.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Rognerud
    • 1
    Email author
  • J. O. Grimalt
    • 2
  • B. O. Rosseland
    • 3
  • P. Fernandez
    • 2
  • R. Hofer
    • 4
  • R. Lackner
    • 4
  • B. Lauritzen
    • 3
  • L. Lien
    • 3
  • J. C. Massabuau
    • 5
  • A. Ribes
    • 2
  1. 1.Norwegian Institute for Water ResearchOttestadNorway
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Chemistry (I.C.E.R.-C.S.I.C.)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Norwegian Institute for Water ResearchOsloNorway
  4. 4.Institute für Zoologie und LimnologieInnsbruckAustria
  5. 5.Laboratoire d'Écophysiologie et Écotoxicologie des systemes AquatiquesUniversité Bordeaux 1 et CNRSFrance

Personalised recommendations