Modulators of Mercury Risk to Wildlife and Humans in the Context of Rapid Global Change

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USGS author Collin Eagles-Smith led an invited synthesis paper as part of the plenary effort for the 13th International Conference on Mercury as a Global Contaminant.

The research team summarized how ecological and human health risks from mercury are influenced by extrinsic global change and socioeconomic drivers, and intrinsic genetic and physiological drivers. They demonstrate that mercury risk does not follow a linear path from sources to adverse impacts, but instead responds non-linearly depending on the ecological and sociological context of different ecosystems and culture. Authors identified how extrinsic global change drivers influence pathways of mercury bioaccumulation and biomagnification through food webs, whereas extrinsic global socioeconomic drivers, and intrinsic individual-level drivers, influence human mercury exposure. They address how adverse health effects of mercury in humans and wildlife are modulated by physiological, genetic, and disease-based drivers. This paper demonstrates the importance of accounting for the ecological and socioeconomic context of changes in mercury risk to appropriately determine effectiveness of the global treaty to reduce environmental mercury releases.

Eagles-Smith, C.A., Silbergeld, E.K., Basu, N., Bustamante, P., Diaz-Barriga, F., Hopkins, W.A., Nyland, J.F., 2018, Modulators of mercury risk to wildlife and humans in the context of rapid global change: Ambio, https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-017-1011-x.