In this study, we assessed concentrations of 13 trace metals in the scales of Notothenia coriiceps, Trematomus bernacchii and Gobionotothen gibberifrons caught off the coast of James Ross Island (Antarctic Peninsula). Overall, our results for scales broadly match those of previous studies using different fish and different organs, with most metals found at trace levels and manganese, aluminium, iron and zinc occurring at high levels in all species. This suggests that scales can serve as a useful, non-invasive bioindicator of long-term contamination in Antarctic fishes. High accumulation of manganese, aluminium, iron and zinc is largely due to high levels in sediments associated with nearby active volcanic sites. Manganese, vanadium and aluminium showed significant positive bioaccumulation in T. bernacchii (along with non-significant positive accumulation of iron, zinc, cobalt and chromium), most likely due to greater dietary specialisation on sediment feeding benthic prey and higher trophic species. Levels of significance in bioaccumulation regressions were strongly affected by large-scale variation in the data, driven largely by individual differences in diet and/or changes in habitat use and sex differences associated with life stage and reproductive status. Increased levels of both airborne deposition and precipitation and meltwater runoff associated with climate change may be further adding to the already high levels of manganese, aluminium, iron and zinc in Antarctic Peninsula sediments. Further long-term studies are encouraged to elucidate mechanisms of uptake (especially for aluminium and iron) and possible intra- and interspecific impacts of climate change on the delicate Antarctic food web.
Antarctic peninsula Bioaccumulation Czech Antarctic Station Notothenioidei Trace metal contaminants Shallow coastal waters
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This study was made possible thanks to financial support from the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (ECIP Project No. P505/12/G112). We would like to express our thanks for permission to use the J.G. Mendel Czech Antarctic Station on James Ross Island in 2014 and all our expedition colleagues for their technical help while stationed there. Research activities at the J.G. Mendel Station are carried out as part of the Czech Polar Research Infrastructure (project no. LM2015078) and RECETOX Research Infrastructure (project no. LM2015051), financed through the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic and European Structural and Investment Funds, Operational Programme for Research, Development and Education (CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_013/0001761). Thanks also go to Michal Janač for help and advice with statistical issues.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Members of the 8th Czech Antarctic expedition were authorised to work and collect samples under Section 8 of Czech Act No. 276/2003 Coll. Collection of samples adhered to all Czech legal requirements regarding animal handling and welfare, and was approved by the Ethical Committee of the Institute of Vertebrate Biology of the Czech Academy of Sciences.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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