Mercury uptake and dynamics in sea ice algae, phytoplankton and grazing copepods from a Beaufort Sea Arctic marine food web

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Burt, Alexis Emelia
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Mercury (Hg) is one of the primary contaminants of concern in the Arctic marine ecosystem. Methyl Hg (MeHg) is known to biomagnify in food webs. During the International Polar Year - Circumpolar Flaw Lead study, sea ice, seawater, bottom ice algae, phytoplankton and the herbivorous copepods were collected from the Amundsen Gulf to test whether ice algae and phytoplankton assimilate Hg from their habitat, and whether Hg bioaccumulates from the seawater to the primary consumers. Sea ice algae were found to accumulate Hg primarily from the bulk bottom ice, and the sea ice algae bloom depleted Hg stored within the bottom section of the ice. Furthermore, biodilution of Hg was observed to occur in sea ice algae. Higher concentrations of Hg were also found in phytoplankton and in grazing copepods. A positive correlation between MeHg and trophic level suggests the occurrence of MeHg biomagnification even at these low trophic positions.
Mercury, Arctic, Sea ice algae, Zooplankton