Trophic Structure and Biomagnification of Total Mercury in Ray Species Within a Benthic Food Web

  • Daniela A. Murillo-Cisneros
  • Todd M. O’Hara
  • Fernando R. Elorriaga-Verplancken
  • Alberto Sánchez-González
  • Emigdio Marín-Enríquez
  • Ana J. Marmolejo-Rodríguez
  • Felipe Galván-MagañaEmail author


Stable isotopes of C (δ13C) and N (δ15N) were used to explore the trophic structure and evaluate mercury (Hg) biomagnification in the food web of muscle of three commercially important ray species from the Pacific coast of Baja California Sur (PCBCS): the shovelnose guitarfish (Pseudobatos productus), banded guitarfish (Zapteryx exasperata), and bat ray (Myliobatis californica). The food web of these ray species predominately consisted of zooplankton, three species of fish, and five species of invertebrates. Mean δ15N values in all species ranged from 10.54 ± 0.18‰ in zooplankton to 17.84 ± 0.81‰ in the shovelnose guitarfish. Mean δ13C values ranged from − 22.05 ± 0.75‰ in the red crab to − 15.93 ± 0.78‰ in the bat ray. Mean total Hg concentration ([THg]) in all species ranged from 0.0009 ± 0.0002 mg kg−1 ww in zooplankton to 0.24 ± 0.19 mg kg−1 ww in the banded guitarfish. The food web magnification factor was 6.38 and significantly greater than 1.0. The present study describes [THg] biomagnification in the benthic food web of three ray species of the PCBCS. This provides an important baseline knowledge of the biomagnification dynamics and pathways of Hg in this environment for these multiple interacting species.



The authors thank the fishermen from Bahía Tortugas for their help in acquisition of samples. DAMC thanks CONACYT and BEIFI for the scholarship. The Wildlife Toxicology Laboratory at University of Alaska Fairbanks, provided support for THg analyses. FREV and FGM thanks Instituto Politécnico Nacional for the support received through the Contracting Excellence Program and Fellowship EDI and COFAA. To Project “Ecología trófica de los elasmobranquios en Bahía Tortugas, Baja California Sur.” Grant number SIP:20170563.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Data Availability

Data pertaining to this manuscript are deposited in text, tables, and figures.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniela A. Murillo-Cisneros
    • 1
  • Todd M. O’Hara
    • 2
  • Fernando R. Elorriaga-Verplancken
    • 1
  • Alberto Sánchez-González
    • 1
  • Emigdio Marín-Enríquez
    • 3
  • Ana J. Marmolejo-Rodríguez
    • 1
  • Felipe Galván-Magaña
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias MarinasInstituto Politécnico NacionalLa PazMexico
  2. 2.Department of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA
  3. 3.Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del NoroesteLa PazMexico

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