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Mercury bioaccumulation along food webs in temperate aquatic ecosystems colonized by aquatic macrophytes in south western France

Gentès, Sophie, Maury-Brachet, Régine, Guyoneaud, Rémy, Monperrus, Mathilde, André, Jean-Marc, Davail, Stéphane, Legeay, Alexia
Ecotoxicology and environmental safety 2013 v.91 pp. 180-187
Anguilla anguilla, Corbicula fluminea, Ludwigia, Procambarus clarkii, Sander lucioperca, aquatic ecosystems, aquatic food webs, bioaccumulation, carnivores, clams, crayfish, eel, lakes, macrophytes, mercury, methylation, methylmercury compounds, microorganisms, muscles, periphyton, risk assessment, stable isotopes, France
Mercury (Hg) is considered as an important pollutant for aquatic systems as its organic form, methylmercury (MeHg), is easily bioaccumulated and bioamplified along food webs. In various ecosystems, aquatic periphyton associated with macrophyte was identified as an important place for Hg storage and methylation by microorganisms. Our study concerns temperate aquatic ecosystems (South Western France) colonized by invasive macrophytes and characterized by high mercury methylation potentials. This work establishes original data concerning Hg bioaccumulation in organisms (plants, crustaceans, molluscs and fish) from five contrasting ecosystems. For low trophic level species, total Hg (THg) concentrations were low (from 27±2ngTHgg−1dw in asiatic clam Corbicula fluminea to 418±114ngTHgg−1dw in crayfish Procambarus clarkii). THg concentrations in some carnivorous fish (high trophic level) were close to or exceeded the International Marketing Level (IML) with values ranging from 1049±220ngTHgg−1dw in pike perch muscle (Sander lucioperca) to 3910±1307ngTHgg−1dw in eel muscle (Anguilla Anguilla). Trophic levels for the individuals were also evaluated through stable isotope analysis, and linked to Hg concentrations of organisms. A significant Hg biomagnification (r2= 0.9) was observed in the Aureilhan lake, despite the absence of top predator fish. For this site, Ludwigia sp. periphyton, as an entry point of Hg into food webs, is a serious hypothesis which remains to be confirmed. This study provides a first investigation of Hg transfer in the ecosystems of south western France and allows the assessment of the risk associated with the presence of Hg in aquatic food webs.