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Mercury isotopes reveal an ontogenetic shift in habitat use by walleye in lower Green Bay of Lake Michigan

February 4, 2019

In general, fish residing in rivers differ from fish residing in lakes in their mercury (Hg) isotope ratios. Specifically, fish residing in lakes typically show enriched values for the isotope ratios of δ202Hg (mass-dependent fractionation of isotope 202Hg) and Δ199Hg (mass-independent fractionation of isotope 199Hg) compared with fish residing in rivers, because photochemical effects acting on Hg isotope ratios are stronger in lakes than in rivers. Whole-fish determinations of Hg isotope ratios in age-0 and adult (ages 4–11) walleye (Sander vitreus) caught in the Fox River, the main tributary to lower Green Bay of Lake Michigan, were dissimilar. Age-0 fish exhibited a river signature for δ202Hg and Δ199Hg, with means equal to 0.00 and 0.26‰, respectively. Significantly elevated levels of δ202Hg and Δ199Hg were observed in adult fish, indicating that adult fish primarily resided in the bay. Our results implied that the Fox River serves as a nursery area for juvenile walleye in the Fox River–lower Green Bay ecosystem. Moreover, corrections for photochemical fractionation of δ202Hg revealed that age-0 and adult walleye shared the same source of Hg in this ecosystem. In addition, Hg isotope ratios did not significantly differ between the sexes of adult walleye, suggesting that these ratios did not fractionate during the Hg elimination process.

Publication Year 2019
Title Mercury isotopes reveal an ontogenetic shift in habitat use by walleye in lower Green Bay of Lake Michigan
DOI 10.1021/acs.estlett.8b00592
Authors Charles P. Madenjian, Sarah E. Janssen, Ryan F. Lepak, Jacob M. Ogorek, Tylor J. Rosera, John F. DeWild, David P. Krabbenhoft, Stewart F. Cogswell, Mark E. Holey
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Science & Technology Letters
Index ID 70201967
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center; Upper Midwest Water Science Center