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Sci Total Environ. 2005 Jul 15;347(1-3):187-207.

Effect of watershed parameters on mercury distribution in different environmental compartments in the Mobile Alabama River Basin, USA.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA.

Abstract

Total mercury (THg) and mono-methylmercury (MeHg) levels in water, sediment, and largemouth bass (LMB) (Micropterus salmoides) were investigated at 52 sites draining contrasting land use/land cover and habitat types within the Mobile Alabama River Basin (MARB). Aqueous THg was positively associated with iron-rich suspended particles and highest in catchments impacted by agriculture. Sediment THg was positively associated with sediment organic mater and iron content, with the highest levels observed in smaller catchments influenced by wetlands, followed by those impacted by agriculture or mixed forest, agriculture, and wetlands. The lowest sediment THg levels were observed in main river channels, except for reaches impacted by coal mining. Sediment MeHg levels were a positive function of sediment THg and organic matter and aqueous nutrient levels. The highest levels occurred in agricultural catchments and those impacted by elevated sulfate levels associated with coal mining. Aqueous MeHg concentrations in main river channels were as high as those in smaller catchments impacted by agriculture or wetlands, suggesting these areas were sources to rivers. Elevated Hg levels in some LMB were observed across all types of land use and land cover, but factors such as shallow water depth, larger wetland catchment surface area, low aqueous potassium levels, and higher Chl a concentrations were associated with higher Hg burdens, particularly in the Coastal Plain province. It is suggested that the observed large variability in LMB Hg burdens is linked to fish displacement by anglers, differences in food web structure, and sediment biogeochemistry, with surficial sediment iron oxides buffering the flux of MeHg from sediments to deeper water pelagic food webs.

PMID:
16084978
DOI:
10.1016/j.scitotenv.2004.12.011
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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