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Mercury in the food chain of the Lagoon of Venice, Italy

Dominik, Janusz, Tagliapietra, Davide, Bravo, Andrea G., Sigovini, Marco, Spangenberg, Jorge E., Amouroux, David, Zonta, Roberto
Marine pollution bulletin 2014 v.88 no.1-2 pp. 194-206
Bivalvia, bioaccumulation, carbon, food chain, lakes, marine ecosystems, mercury, methylmercury compounds, nitrogen, nutrients, organic matter, sediments, stable isotopes, water pollution, Italy
Sediments and biota samples were collected in a restricted area of the Lagoon of Venice and analysed for total mercury, monomethyl mercury (MMHg), and nitrogen and carbon isotopes. Results were used to examine mercury biomagnification in a complex food chain. Sedimentary organic matter (SOM) proved to be a major source of nutrients and mercury to primary consumers. Contrary to inorganic mercury, MMHg was strongly biomagnified along the food chain, although the lognormal relationship between MMHg and δ15N was less constrained than generally reported from lakes or coastal marine ecosystems. The relationship improved when logMMHg concentrations were plotted against trophic positions derived from baseline δ15N estimate for primary consumers. From the regression slope a mean MMHg trophic magnification factor of 10 was obtained. Filter-feeding benthic bivalves accumulated more MMHg than other primary consumers and were probably important in MMHg transfer from sediments to higher levels of the food chain.