Elimination of mercury by yellow perch in the wild.


The rate of methylmercury (MeHg) elimination by fish is important in determining the extent of bioaccumulation and for predicting recovery times of MeHg-contaminated fisheries. Rates of MeHg elimination remain uncertain in existing bioaccumulation models due to a lack of field studies. We addressed this problem by monitoring fish that had naturally accumulated isotopically enriched MeHg (spike MeHg) during a whole-ecosystem experiment. We transported yellow perch (Perca flavescens) from the experimental lake to an untreated lake and monitored spike total mercury (THg, most of which was MeHg) losses over 440 d. Spike THg was distributed among fish tissues in a similar way as ambient THg (background non-spike THg). We observed rapid loss of spike THg from liver and other visceral tissues (approximately 90 d) followed by a plateau. Subsequently, there was prolonged redistribution of spike THg into muscle (180 d). Loss of spike THg from the whole fish occurred > 5 times slower (half-life of 489 d) than in past laboratory studies using this species. We determined that MeHg bioaccumulation models with laboratory-based elimination rates produced faster losses than those observed in wild fish. The present findings provide support for refining elimination rates in MeHg models and show the importance of examining biological processes under natural conditions.

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@article{Walleghem2007EliminationOM, title={Elimination of mercury by yellow perch in the wild.}, author={Jillian L A Van Walleghem and Paul J. Blanchfield and Holger H Hintelmann}, journal={Environmental science & technology}, year={2007}, volume={41 16}, pages={5895-901} }