Mercury cycling, bioaccumulation, and risk across western North America: a landscape scale synthesis linking long-term datasets

Science Center Objects

Mercury (Hg) is a serious environmental problem that is impacting ecological and human health on a global scale. However, local and regional processes are largely responsible for producing methylmercury, which drives ecological risk. This is particularly true in western North America where the combination of diverse landscapes, habitat types, climates, and Hg sources may disproportionally impac...

Mercury (Hg) is a serious environmental problem that is impacting ecological and human health on a global scale. However, local and regional processes are largely responsible for producing methylmercury, which drives ecological risk. This is particularly true in western North America where the combination of diverse landscapes, habitat types, climates, and Hg sources may disproportionally impact the region relative to other areas in North America. Even with decades of regional Hg research and monitoring, there is still no holistic synthesis of the spatiotemporal patterns of Hg in abiotic and biotic resources across the region, nor has there been a formal, simultaneous analysis of the landscape, ecological and climatological factors that drive Hg cycling, bioaccumulation, and risk of Hg in western North America. Through a compilation of decades of data records on Hg, we will conduct a tri-national synthesis of Hg cycling and bioaccumulation throughout western North America in order to quantify the influence of land use, habitat, and climatological factors on Hg risk. With public land comprising more than 60% of the total surface area in the region, this knowledge is critical for more effectively managing resources to reduce Hg impacts. We have developed an interdisciplinary team of scientists and policy experts, representing three countries, to accomplish these goals across such an expansive area.

Principal Investigator(s):

Collin A Eagles-Smith (USGS Corvallis Research Group, FRESC)

Mark C Marvin-DiPasquale (USGS Branch of Regional Research, Western Region)

David Evers (Biodiversity Research Institute)

Jim Wiener (University of Wisconsin-La Crosse)

Elsie Sunderland (Harvard University)

Participant(s):

Charles N Alpers (USGS Sacramento-Northern California Project Office, CA Water Science Center)

David P Krabbenhoft (USGS Wisconsin Water Science Center)

George R Aiken (USGS Branch of Regional Research, Central Region)

Jacob A Fleck (Sacramento-Bay/Delta Project Office, CA Water Science Center)

Josh T Ackerman (USGS Dixon Field Station, WERC)

Robin Stewart (USGS Branch of Regional Research, Western Region)

Kiira J Siitari (USGS Corvallis Research Group, FRESC)

Allison Luengen (University of San Francisco)

Allyson Jackson (Biodiversity Research Institute)

Chris Eckley (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

Clifton Dassuncao (Harvard University)

Dan Jaffe (University of Washington)

Darell Slotton (University of California, Davis)

Genine Wright (University of Nevada, Reno)

Jay Davis (San Francisco Estuary Institute)

Joel Blum (University of Michigan)

John Elliott (Environment Canada)

Marien Koenraad (Washington State Department of Health)

Kristi Morris (National Park Service)

Madeline Turnquist (Biodiversity Research Institute)

Mae Gustin (University of Nevada, Reno)

Philip Johnson (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Sandy Steffen (Environment Canada)

Victor Gutierrez Avedoy (National Center of Environmental Research and Training, Mexico)

Faviola Villatoro (National Center of Environmental Research and Training, Mexico)

Jesse Lepak (Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

Colleen Flanagan (National Park Service)

Andrew Gilbert (Biodiversity Research Institute)

Jerry Lin (University of Nevada, Reno)

Peter Weiss-Penzias (University of California, Santa Cruz)

James J Willacker (Corvallis Research Group, FRESC)

Paul Drevnick (University of Michigan)

Matthew Parsons (Environment Canada)

Daniel Obrist (Desert Research Institute)

Publication(s) and Product(s):

 

Press release detailng the special issue of Science of the Total Environment that has 17 papers produced by this working group, which cover "Mercury in Western North America-Spatiotemporal Patterns, Biogeochemistry, Bioaccumulation, and Risks.Click here to access the release.



Ackerman, J. T., Eagles-Smith, C. A., Herzog, M. P., Hartman, C. A., Peterson, S. H., Evers, D. C., Jackson, A.K., Elliott, J.E., Vander Pol, S.S., Bryan, C. E. (2016). Avian mercury exposure and toxicological risk across western North America: A synthesis. Science of The Total Environment. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.03.071



Alpers, Charles N., Julie L. Yee, Joshua T. Ackerman, James L. Orlando, Darrel G. Slotton, and Mark C. Marvin-DiPasquale. 2016. “Prediction of Fish and Sediment Mercury in Streams Using Landscape Variables and Historical Mining.” Science of The Total Environment. Accessed September 21. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.05.088.



Davis, J. A., Ross, J. R. M., Bezalel, S., Sim, L., Bonnema, A., Ichikawa, G., Heim, W.A., Schiff, K., Eagles-Smith, C.A., and Ackerman, J. T. (2016). Hg concentrations in fish from coastal waters of California and Western North America. The Science of the Total Environment. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.03.093



Domagalski, J., Majewski, M. S., Alpers, C. N., Eckley, C. S., Eagles-Smith, C. A., Schenk, L., & Wherry, S. (2016). Comparison of mercury mass loading in streams to atmospheric deposition in watersheds of Western North America: Evidence for non-atmospheric mercury sources. The Science of the Total Environment. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.02.112



Drevnick, P. E., Cooke, C. A., Barraza, D., Blais, J. M., Coale, K. H., Cumming, B. F., … Wolfe, B. B. (2016). Spatiotemporal patterns of mercury accumulation in lake sediments of western North America. The Science of the Total Environment. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.03.167



Eagles-Smith, C. A., Ackerman, J. T., Willacker, J. J., Tate, M. T., Lutz, M. A., Fleck, J. A., … Pritz, C. F. (2016). Spatial and temporal patterns of mercury concentrations in freshwater fish across the Western United States and Canada. The Science of the Total Environment. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.03.229



Eagles-Smith, Collin A., James G. Wiener, Chris S. Eckley, James J. Willacker, David C. Evers, Mark Marvin-DiPasquale, Daniel Obrist, et al. 2016. “Mercury in Western North America: A Synthesis of Environmental Contamination, Fluxes, Bioaccumulation, and Risk to Fish and Wildlife.” Science of The Total Environment 568 (October): 1213-26. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.05.094.



Eckley, C. S., Tate, M. T., Lin, C.-J., Gustin, M., Dent, S., Eagles-Smith, C., Lutz, M.A., Wickland, K.P., Wand, B., Gray, J.E., Edwards, G.C., Krabbenhoft, D.P., and Smith, D. B. (2016). Surface-air mercury fluxes across Western North America: A synthesis of spatial trends and controlling variables. The Science of the Total Environment. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.02.121



Fleck, J. A., Marvin-DiPasquale, M., Eagles-Smith, C. A., Ackerman, J. T., Lutz, M. A., Tate, M., … Eckley, C. S. (2016). Mercury and methylmercury in aquatic sediment across western North America. The Science of the Total Environment. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.03.044



Jackson, A., Evers, D. C., Eagles-Smith, C. A., Ackerman, J. T., Willacker, J. J., Elliott, J. E., Lepak, J., Vander POl, S.S., and Bryan, C. E. (2016). Mercury risk to avian piscivores across western United States and Canada. The Science of the Total Environment. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.02.197



Lepak, J. M., Hooten, M. B., Eagles-Smith, C. A., Tate, M. T., Lutz, M. A., Ackerman, J. T., … Davis, J. (2016). Assessing potential health risks to fish and humans using mercury concentrations in inland fish from across western Canada and the United States. The Science of the Total Environment. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.03.031



Obrist, D., Pearson, C., Webster, J., Kane, T., Lin, C.-J., Aiken, G. R., & Alpers, C. N. (2016). A synthesis of terrestrial mercury in the western United States: Spatial distribution defined by land cover and plant productivity. The Science of the Total Environment. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.11.104



Webster, J. P., Kane, T. J., Obrist, D., Ryan, J. N., & Aiken, G. R. (2016). Estimating mercury emissions resulting from wildfire in forests of the Western United States. The Science of the Total Environment. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.01.166



Weiss-Penzias, P. S., Gay, D. A., Brigham, M. E., Parsons, M. T., Gustin, M. S., & Ter Schure, A. (2016). Trends in mercury wet deposition and mercury air concentrations across the U.S. and Canada. The Science of the Total Environment. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.01.061

 

Presentation(s):

The influence of reservoir structure and management on mercury concentrations in sportfish across Western North America​ by James Willacker at SETAC, November, 2015. 

Mercury-Selenium mass concentrations and molar ratios in fish and wildlife across gradients of metal exposure in the Western United States​ by Robin A. Stewart at SETAC, November, 2015.

Spatial and temporal trends in fish mercury concentrations across western North America by Collin Eagles-Smith at SETAC, November, 2015.

Spatial and temporal variability in fish mercury concentrations from a large river system by Jesse Becker at SETAC, November 2015. 

Spatial and Temporal Variation in Avian Mercury Exposure and Risk Across Western North America: a Synthesis​ by Josh Ackerman at SETAC, November 2015.

Spatial variations in benthic methylmercury production rates among ecosystems and habitats across western North America by Mark Marvin-DiPasquale at SETAC, November, 2015.

Surface-air mercury fluxes across Western North America: a synthesis of spatial trends and controlling variables​ by Chris Eckley at SETAC, November, 2015

Western North America Mercury Synthesis: "A multi-disciplinary assessment of the climate, landscape, and land use controls on mercury risk across western North America"  by Collin Eagles-Smith at SETAC, November, 2015.