Controls of Methylmercury Bioaccumulation in Forest Floor Food Webs

Martin Tsz-Ki Tsui, Songnian Liu, Rebecka L. Brasso, Joel D. Blum, Sae Yun Kwon, Yener Ulus, Yabing H. Nollet, Steven J. Balogh, Sue L. Eggert, Jacques C Finlay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Compared to the extensive research on aquatic ecosystems, very little is known about the sources and trophic transfer of methylmercury (MeHg) in terrestrial ecosystems. In this study, we examine energy flow and trophic structure using stable carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotope ratios, respectively, and MeHg levels in basal resources and terrestrial invertebrates from four temperate forest ecosystems. We show that MeHg levels in biota increased significantly (p < 0.01) with δ13C and δ15N at all sites, implying the importance of both microbially processed diets (with increased δ13C) and trophic level (with increased δ15N) at which organisms feed, on MeHg levels in forest floor biota. The trophic magnification slopes of MeHg (defined as the slope of log10MeHg vs δ15N) for these forest floor food webs (0.20-0.28) were not significantly different (p > 0.05) from those observed for diverse temperate freshwater systems (0.24 ± 0.07; n = 78), demonstrating for the first time the nearly equivalent efficiencies with which MeHg moves up the food chain in these contrasting ecosystem types. Our results suggest that in situ production of MeHg within the forest floor and efficient biomagnification both elevate MeHg levels in carnivorous invertebrates in temperate forests, which can contribute to significant bioaccumulation of this neurotoxin in terrestrial apex predators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2434-2440
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume53
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 5 2019

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Bioaccumulation
methylmercury
temperate forest
forest floor
Ecosystems
bioaccumulation
food web
invertebrate
trophic structure
energy flow
flow structure
nitrogen isotope
terrestrial ecosystem
food chain
aquatic ecosystem
forest ecosystem
biota
Aquatic ecosystems
Neurotoxins
predator

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Controls of Methylmercury Bioaccumulation in Forest Floor Food Webs. / Tsz-Ki Tsui, Martin; Liu, Songnian; Brasso, Rebecka L.; Blum, Joel D.; Kwon, Sae Yun; Ulus, Yener; Nollet, Yabing H.; Balogh, Steven J.; Eggert, Sue L.; Finlay, Jacques C.

In: Environmental Science and Technology, Vol. 53, No. 5, 05.03.2019, p. 2434-2440.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Tsz-Ki Tsui, M, Liu, S, Brasso, RL, Blum, JD, Kwon, SY, Ulus, Y, Nollet, YH, Balogh, SJ, Eggert, SL & Finlay, JC 2019, 'Controls of Methylmercury Bioaccumulation in Forest Floor Food Webs', Environmental Science and Technology, vol. 53, no. 5, pp. 2434-2440. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.8b06053
Tsz-Ki Tsui M, Liu S, Brasso RL, Blum JD, Kwon SY, Ulus Y et al. Controls of Methylmercury Bioaccumulation in Forest Floor Food Webs. Environmental Science and Technology. 2019 Mar 5;53(5):2434-2440. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.8b06053
Tsz-Ki Tsui, Martin ; Liu, Songnian ; Brasso, Rebecka L. ; Blum, Joel D. ; Kwon, Sae Yun ; Ulus, Yener ; Nollet, Yabing H. ; Balogh, Steven J. ; Eggert, Sue L. ; Finlay, Jacques C. / Controls of Methylmercury Bioaccumulation in Forest Floor Food Webs. In: Environmental Science and Technology. 2019 ; Vol. 53, No. 5. pp. 2434-2440.
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