In this study, the biodilution hypothesis of methylmercury (MeHg) accumulation was examined in a Hg-contaminated ecosystem that has undergone concurrent changes in nutrient loading and zooplankton community composition. Using a long-term record of 17 years (between 1980 and 2009), we demonstrate that zooplankton MeHg concentrations in Onondaga Lake, NY, are strongly driven by changes in the zooplankton community and body size. MeHg concentrations in zooplankton increased with an increase in body size and biomass. The highest concentrations of MeHg were observed under eutrophic and hypereutrophic conditions when large-bodied Daphnia species, Daphnia pulicaria and Daphnia galeata mendotae, were present. Bioconcentration rather than biodilution was governing the accumulation of MeHg in zooplankton without apparent growth dilution or zooplankton biomass dilution. Algal-bloom dilution controlled the variability in the MeHg concentration only under hypereutrophic conditions when Ceriodaphnia predominated the cladoceran population. Our study demonstrates that changes in zooplankton community composition confound the biodilution theory in Onondaga Lake and that the presence of large-bodied zooplankton species drives elevated MeHg concentrations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry