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Ecotoxicology. 2011 Oct;20(7):1555-67. doi: 10.1007/s10646-011-0715-0. Epub 2011 Jun 25.

Spatiotemporal trends of mercury in walleye and largemouth bass from the Laurentian Great Lakes region.

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Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Saint Paul, MN, USA.


The risk of mercury (Hg) exposure to humans and wildlife from fish consumption has driven extensive mercury analysis throughout the Great Lakes Region since the 1970s. This study compiled fish-Hg data from multiple sources in the region and assessed spatiotemporal trends of Hg concentrations in two representative top predator fish species. Walleye (Sander vitreus) and largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) were chosen for the trend analysis because they had more Hg records (63,872) than other fish species that had been sampled from waters throughout the region. Waterbody types were inland lakes (70%), the Great Lakes, impoundments, and rivers. The compiled datasets were analyzed with a mixed effects statistical model having random effects of station, year, and fish length; and fixed effects of year, tissue type, fish length, habitat, and season. The results showed a generally declining temporal trend in fish-Hg for the region (1970-2009), with spatial trends of increasing Hg concentration from south to north and from west to east across the region. Nonlinearity was evident in the general downward trends of Ontario walleye, with a shift to an upward trend beginning in the 1990s. Only ongoing monitoring can reveal if this upward shift is an oscillation in a long-term decline, a statistical anomaly, or a sustained declining temporal trend in regional fish-Hg concentrations.

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