Dietary and waterborne mercury accumulation by yellow perch: A field experiment. Hrenchuk, L., E., Blanchfield, P., J., Paterson, M., J., & Hintelmann, H., H. Environmental Science and Technology, 46(1):509-516, 2012.
Dietary and waterborne mercury accumulation by yellow perch: A field experiment [pdf]Paper  abstract   bibtex   
It is well accepted that the majority of monomethylmercury (MMHg) in fish originates in their food; however, the additional contribution of water as a source to fish MMHg levels remains unclear. We used isotope enriched mercury (Hg) in a controlled field experiment to quantify the uptake of Hg from ingested and aqueous sources by young-of-year yellow perch (Perca flavescens). Water and zooplankton from a lake that had received (202)Hg-enriched additions (called spike Hg) for 7 y during a whole-ecosystem loading study (METAALICUS) provided natural, low-level Hg exposure. We achieved separation of exposure pathways by housing perch in one of four treatments: clean water + clean food; clean water + Hg spiked food; Hg spiked water + clean food; Hg spiked water + Hg spiked food. Fish accumulated MMHg directly from water, and this source accounted for at least 10% of MMHg in fish during the 27-d trial. Accumulation of spike Hg from water and food was additive, with food providing the majority of spike MMHg taken in by fish. Predictions from a bioenergetics model that excludes water as a source underestimated Hg in perch by 11%. This study illustrates the importance of acknowledging both food and water as sources of Hg to fish and suggests that aqueous Hg should be included as a source of contamination in bioaccumulation models and experiments.

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