Mercury in zooplankton of northern Wisconsin lakes: taxonomic and site-specific trends.
Mercury content and speciation were determined in freshwater Zooplankton from twelve northern Wisconsin (USA) lakes that spanned gradients of dissolved organic carbon (DOC, 1.6 to 20.9 mg/L) and pH (4.6 to 7.2). MeHg in crustacean taxa ranged from 1 to 479 ng/g diy weight, and from 2 to 45 ng/g in the invertebrate predators. Total Hg in the predators ranged from 20 to 153 ng/g. Although the highest MeHg values were found in the herbivores from high DOC lakes (and the experimentally acidified basin of Little Rock Lake), we observed considerable variation in the relationship between MeHg content of Zooplankton and lake water DOC. Bioconcentration factors (BCF) for both MeHg (3.5 to 7.1 log units) and Hg (3.7 to 5.4 log units) decreased with increasing lake DOC, while pH effects were not as apparent. Bioconcentration of MeHg was higher than Hg indicating that MeHg increases while non-methyl Hg declines in progressively higher trophic levels. Biomagnification factors (BMF) for Hg and MeHg were low relative to BCF. The BMF for crustaceans averaged 0.4 log units for MeHg and -0.5 log units for Hg, indicating that MeHg increased 2.5-fold from seston to crustacean herbivores, while non-MeHg concentrations declined. Unlike BCF, BMF were not related to DOC or pH. In contrast to studies of vertebrate predators, both BCF and BMF in the invertebrate predator Chaoborus, were lower than those in presumed prey. These observations point toward several complexities in the transport of Hg species in the lower levels of aquatic foodwebs.