Mercury Concentrations in Lentic Fish Populations Related to Ecosystem and Watershed Characteristics
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Predicting mercury (Hg) concentrations of fishes at large spatial scales is a fundamental environmental challenge with the potential to improve human health. In this study, mercury concentrations were examined for five species across 161 lakes and ecosystem, and watershed parameters were investigated as explanatory variables in statistical models. For all species, Hg concentrations were significantly, positively related to wetland coverage. For three species (largemouth bass, pike, and walleye), Hg concentrations were significantly, negatively related to lake trophic state index (TSI), suggestive of growth biodilution. There were no significant relationships between ecosystem size and mercury concentrations. However, Hg concentrations were strongly, positively related to ecosystem size across species. Scores of small or remote lakes that have never been tested could be prioritized for testing using models akin to those presented in this article. Such an approach could also be useful for exploring how Hg concentrations of fishes might respond to natural or anthropogenic changes to ecosystems over time.
KeywordsContaminant Ecology Fish tissue Food chain GIS Methylation Wisconsin
James G. Vennie III provided the digital data from the Wisconsin lakes book. Debra M. McCallum, Institute for Social Science Research at University of Alabama assisted in developing the statistical approach used in this study; but I take ultimate responsibility for the experimental design and choice of statistical analyses. D. Albrey Arrington, Craig A. Layman, Lori-Tolley Jordan, and three anonymous reviewers provided comments on earlier manuscripts that dramatically improved the study.
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