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Mar Environ Res. 2003 Oct;56(4):471-502.

Biotransference and biomagnification of selenium copper, cadmium, zinc, arsenic and lead in a temperate seagrass ecosystem from Lake Macquarie Estuary, NSW, Australia.

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Ecochemistry Laboratory, Applied Ecology Group, University of Canberra, ACT 2601, Bruce, Australia.


In this study the biotransference of selenium copper, cadmium, zinc, arsenic and lead was measured in a contaminated seagrass ecosystem in Lake Macquarie, NSW, Australia, to determine if biomagnification of these trace metals is occurring and if they reach concentrations that pose a threat to the resident organisms or human consumers. Selenium was found to biomagnify, exceeding maximum permitted concentrations for human consumption within carnivorous fish tissue, the highest trophic level examined. Selenium concentrations measured within carnivorous fish were also above those shown to elicit sub-lethal effects in freshwater fish. As comparisons are made to selenium concentrations known to effect freshwater fish, inferences must be made with caution. There was no evidence of copper, cadmium, zinc or lead biomagnification within the food web examined. Copper, cadmium, zinc and lead concentrations were below concentrations shown to elicit adverse responses in biota. Copper concentrations within crustaceans M. bennettae and P. palagicus were found to exceed maximum permitted concentrations for human consumption. It is likely that copper concentrations within these species were accumulated due to the essential nature of this trace metal for many species of molluscs and crustaceans. Arsenic showed some evidence of biomagnification. Total arsenic concentrations are similar to those found in other uncontaminated marine ecosystems, thus arsenic concentrations are unlikely to cause adverse effects to aquatic organisms. Inorganic arsenic concentrations are below maximum permitted concentrations for human consumption.

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