Bioaccumulation and biomagnification of mercury in Lake Murray, Papua New Guinea

K.C. Bowles, S.C. Apte, W.A. Maher, M. Kawei, R. Smith

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    The bioaccumulation of mercury in the food webs incorporating the major piscivorous fish species of Lake Murray, Papua New Guinea, has been characterised. Methylmercury concentrations increased with trophic level and the proportion of total mercury present as methylmercury increased from <1% in plants to 94% in piscivorous fish. Methylmercury bioaccumulation factors (BAFs) were similar to those found in temperate environments, with a typical increase of 1 log unit between planktivore and piscivore trophic levels. The greatest bioaccumulation of methylmercury occurred between seston and the water column (log BAF of 5.36). The bioaccumulation of mercury to levels of regulatory concern by the lake's piscivores was attributable to the biomagnification power of the plankton-based food chain comprising four trophic levels (phytoplankton, zooplankton, planktivore, piscivore) rather than any elevated concentrations of mercury in waters or sediments. The methylmercury concentrations of individual piscivores were positively correlated with both trophic position, as indicated by δ15N measurements, and fish size. Stable-isotope measurements were used to identify fish species where dietary changes occurring with age significantly augmented age-related bioaccumulation of mercury.
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)888-897
    Number of pages10
    JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2001

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