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Sci Rep. 2014 Jan 8;4:3599. doi: 10.1038/srep03599.

Biological proliferation of cesium-137 through the detrital food chain in a forest ecosystem in Japan.

Author information

  • 1Community Ecology Lab., Faculty of Science, Chiba University, Chiba, 263-8522, Japan.
  • 2Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, 113-8657, Japan.
  • 3National Institute of Radiological Sciences, Chiba, 263-8555, Japan.


Radionuclides, including (137)Cs, were released from the disabled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and had been deposited broadly over forested areas of north-eastern Honshu Island, Japan. In the forest, (137)Cs was highly concentrated on leaf litters deposited in autumn 2010, before the accident. Monitoring of the distribution of (137)Cs among functional groups clearly showed the role of the detrital food chain as the primary channel of (137)Cs transfer to consumer organisms. Although many studies have reported the bioaccumulation (or dilution) of radioactive materials through trophic interactions, the present results highlight the importance of examining multiple possible pathways (e.g., grazing vs. detrital chains) in the proliferation of (137)Cs through food webs. These results provide important insight into the future distribution and transfer of (137)Cs within forest ecosystems.

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