, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 273–284 | Cite as

Environmental, geographic and trophic influences on methylmercury concentrations in macroinvertebrates from lakes and wetlands across Canada

  • Meredith G. Clayden
  • Karen A. Kidd
  • John Chételat
  • Britt D. Hall
  • Edenise Garcia


Macroinvertebrates are a key vector in the transfer of methylmercury (MeHg) to fish. However, the factors that affect MeHg concentrations and bioaccumulation in these organisms are not as well understood as for fish, and studies on a broad geographic scale are lacking. In this study, we gathered published and unpublished MeHg and carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) stable isotope data for freshwater macroinvertebrates from 119 lakes and wetlands across seven Canadian provinces, along with selected physical, chemical and biological characteristics of these systems. Overall, water pH was the most important determinant of MeHg concentrations in both predatory and non-predatory invertebrates [\( {\text{R}}^{2}_{\text{adj}} \) = 0.32, p < 0.001; multivariate canonical redundancy analysis (RDA)]. The location of lakes explained additional variation in invertebrate MeHg (partial R2 = 0.08 and 0.06 for latitude and longitude, respectively; RDA), with higher concentrations in more easterly and southerly regions. Both invertebrate foraging behaviour and trophic position (indicated by functional feeding groups and δ15N values, respectively) also predicted MeHg concentrations in the organisms. Collectively, results indicate that in addition to their feeding ecology, invertebrates accumulate more MeHg in acidic systems where the supply of MeHg to the food web is typically high. MeHg concentrations in macroinvertebrates may also be influenced by larger-scale geographic differences in atmospheric mercury deposition among regions.


Macroinvertebrates Methylmercury Stable isotopes Lakes Wetlands 



Funding for this research was provided by Environment Canada’s Clean Air Regulatory Agenda (CARA) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10646_2013_1171_MOESM1_ESM.docx (218 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 218 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meredith G. Clayden
    • 1
  • Karen A. Kidd
    • 1
  • John Chételat
    • 2
  • Britt D. Hall
    • 3
  • Edenise Garcia
    • 4
  1. 1.Biology Department, Canadian Rivers InstituteUniversity of New BrunswickSaint JohnCanada
  2. 2.National Wildlife Research Centre, Environment CanadaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of ReginaReginaCanada
  4. 4.Nature ConservancyBelémBrazil

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