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Nutrients mediate the effects of temperature on methylmercury concentrations in freshwater zooplankton

February 21, 2019

Methylmercury (MeHg) bioaccumulation in freshwater aquatic systems is impacted by anthropogenic stressors, including climate change and nutrient enrichment. The goal of this study was to determine how warmer water temperatures and excess nutrients would alter zooplankton communities and phytoplankton concentrations, and whether those changes would in turn increase or decrease MeHg concentrations in freshwater zooplankton. To test this, we employed a 2x2 factorial experimental design with nutrient and temperature treatments. Mesocosms were filled with ambient water and plankton from Cottage Grove Reservoir, Oregon, U.S.A, a waterbody that has experienced decades of elevated MeHg concentrations and corresponding fish consumption advisories due to run-off from Black Butte Mine tailings, located within the watershed. Treatment combinations of warmer temperature (increased by 0.7°C) and nutrient addition (a single pulse of 10 ambient concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous), control, and a combination of temperature and nutrients were applied to mesocosms.