Assessing the importance of macroinvertebrate trophic dead ends in the lower transfer of methylmercury in littoral food webs

  • Cremona F
  • Planas D
  • Lucotte M
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Total mercury and methylmercury concentrations ([THg], [MeHg]) were measured in littoral macroinvertebrates from Lake St. Pierre, Quebec, Canada. Functional groups (detritivore, grazer, edible predator, inedible predator) explained the greatest fraction of [MeHg] variation compared with time (year, month), and space (station and shore). Greatest [THg] and [MeHg] were found in inedible predators mostly from families of heteropterans and coleopterans. Detritivores and grazers exhibited the lowest Hg concentrations, while edible predators were intermediate. Inedible predators also had the highest percentage of MeHg ([MeHg]/[THg]), with some taxa close to 100%. Such high percentages are seldom observed in freshwater organisms other than piscivorous fish. MeHg burden (concentrations ? biomass) in inedible predators ac- counted for 10% of the MeHg pool for the whole invertebrate community. These large quantities of MeHg are sequestrated in aquatic ‘‘trophic dead ends’’ and could partly explain the low [MeHg] measured in fish, compared with [MeHg] of macroinvertebrates from Lake St. Pierre and other freshwater ecosystems with large littoral zones. We recommend taking into account the inedible organisms in Hg cycling models to avoid a possible overestimation of the MeHg pool available to fish.

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  • Fabien Cremona

  • Dolors Planas

  • Marc Lucotte

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