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Linking meso-scale spatial variation in methylmercury production to bioaccumulation in tidal marsh food webs

November 13, 2023

Differences in sediment biogeochemistry among tidal marsh features with different hydrological and geomorphological characteristics, including marsh interiors, marsh edges, first-order channels, and third-order channels, can result in spatial variation in MeHg production and availability. To better understand the link between MeHg production in sediments and bioaccumulation in primary and secondary consumer invertebrates and fish, we characterized mesoscale spatial variation in sediment biogeochemistry and MeHg concentrations of sediments, water, and consumer tissues among marsh features. Our results indicated that marsh interiors had biogeochemical conditions, including greater concentrations of organic matter and sulfate reduction rates, that resulted in greater MeHg concentrations in sediments and surface water particulates from marsh interiors compared to other features. Tissue MeHg concentrations of consumers also differed among features, with greater concentrations from marsh edges and interiors compared to channels. This spatial mismatch of MeHg concentrations in sediments and water compared to those in consumers may have resulted from differences in behavior and physiology among consumers that influenced the spatial scale over which MeHg was integrated into tissues. Our results highlight the importance of sampling across a suite of marsh features and considering the behavioral and physiological traits of sentinel taxa for contaminant monitoring studies.

Publication Year 2023
Title Linking meso-scale spatial variation in methylmercury production to bioaccumulation in tidal marsh food webs
DOI 10.1021/acs.est.3c04907
Authors Laurie Anne Hall, Isa Woo, Mark C. Marvin-DiPasquale, John Y. Takekawa, David P. Krabbenhoft, Donald Yee, Letitia Grenier, Susan E. W. De La Cruz
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Science and Technology
Index ID 70250090
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center