State of rare earth elements in the sediment and their bioaccumulation by mangroves: a case study in pristine islands of Indian Sundarban
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The mangrove ecosystems are known to efficiently sequester trace metals both in sediments and plant biomass. However, less is known about the chemistry of rare earth elements (REE) in the coastal environments, especially in the world’s largest mangrove province, the Sundarban. Here, the concentration of REE in the sediment and plant organs of eight dominant mangrove species (mainly Avicennia sp.) in the Indian Sundarban was measured to assess REE sources, distribution, and bioaccumulation state. Results revealed that light REE (LREE) were more concentrated than the heavy REE (HREE) (128–144 mg kg−1 and 12–15 mg kg−1, respectively) in the mangrove sediments, with a relatively weak positive europium anomaly (Eu/Eu* = 1.03–1.14) with respect to North American shale composite. The primary source of REE was most likely linked to aluminosilicate weathering of crustal materials, and the resultant increase in LREE in the detritus. Vertical distribution of REE in one of the long cores from Lothian Island was altered by mangrove root activity and dependent on various physicochemical properties in the sediment (e.g., Eh, pH, organic carbon, and phosphate). REE uptake by plants was higher in the below-ground parts than in the above-ground plant tissues (root = 3.3 mg kg−1, leaf + wood = 1.7 mg kg−1); however, their total concentration was much lower than in the sediment (149.5 mg kg−1). Species-specific variability in bioaccumulation factor and translocation factor was observed indicating different REE partitioning and varying degree of mangrove uptake efficiency. Total REE stock in plant (above + live below ground) was estimated to be 168 g ha−1 with LREE contributing ~ 90% of the stock. This study highlighted the efficiency of using REE as a biological proxy in determining the degree of bioaccumulation within the mangrove environment.
KeywordsRare earth elements (REE) Bioaccumulation Mangrove Sundarban
RR is indebted to LabexMER International Postdoctoral Program for providing fellowship (FNP150009-DOCT-RAY). AGG thanks to the Laboratoire d’Excellence LabexMer (ANR-10-LABX-19) and the Postdoctoral program from the Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The authors sincerely thank the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve for giving permission to undertake this study inside the mangrove forest. We thank the editor and reviewer for their comments that helped much improving the manuscript.
SKM received minor research project grant from the University Grant Commission, New Delhi (No. F, PSW-076/13-14, ERO).
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