Seasonal variation in accumulation of mercury in the benthic macrofauna in a temperate coastal zone (Gulf of Gdańsk)

Agnieszka Jędruch , Magdalena Bełdowska , Bożena Graca


The main source of toxic mercury (Hg) in the human body is the consumption of fish and seafood. Therefore, it is particularly important to indicate the processes that condition Hg accumulation in marine organisms, especially those in the basal links of the food chain, which are rather poorly investigated compared to top predators. The aim of the study was to determine the seasonal variability of Hg concentrations in macrozoobenthic organisms and the factors that condition it. The research was conducted in 2012–2013 in a temperate coastal zone (Gulf of Gdańsk). The obtained results showed that both Hg concentrations within one trophic level, and their seasonal variation, may differ significantly if the organisms have different feeding habits. The research also indicated that the seasonal variability of Hg level in macrozoobenthos depended on a number of both biotic factors (primary production volume, biomass and rate of fauna metabolism) and abiotic factors (salinity and ionic composition of water, Eh). The variability of Hg concentrations in macrozoobenthos during the study period was different at the research stations, which were subjected to different land influence (e.g. surface run-off, coastal erosion), and consequently differed in the quantity and quality of organic matter. The increased load of suspended particulate matter (SPM) was also an important factor influencing the increase in Hg concentration in macrozoobenthos, regardless of their trophic status. This indicates that SPM is an important source of food for zoobenthos, even in species that prefer a different feeding strategies. The obtained results also showed the role of climate changes observed in the temperate zone - in particular, the warming of the winter season - in shaping the Hg level in macrozoobenthos. The accumulation of Hg in the bottom fauna occurred most intensively in spring immediately after a long period of icing - Hg concentrations were then much higher than those measured after a mild winter, during which the ice cover persisted for a short time. The warming of the winter season and the extension of the vegetation season contributed to an increase in macrozoobenthic biomass, and consequently to the biodilution of Hg, which could have had a negative effect on the Hg load introduced into the trophic chain.
Author Agnieszka Jędruch (FOG / IO / DMChEP)
Agnieszka Jędruch,,
- Division of Marine Chemistry and Environmental Protection
, Magdalena Bełdowska (FOG / IO / DMChEP)
Magdalena Bełdowska,,
- Division of Marine Chemistry and Environmental Protection
, Bożena Graca (FOG / IO / DMChEP)
Bożena Graca,,
- Division of Marine Chemistry and Environmental Protection
Journal seriesEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety, ISSN 0147-6513, (A 30 pkt)
Issue year2018
Publication size in sheets0.55
Keywords in Englishmercury, macrozoobenthos, coastal food web, trophic groups, Baltic Sea
ASJC Classification2307 Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis; 2739 Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health; 2310 Pollution; 2700 General Medicine
Languageen angielski
Score (nominal)30
Score sourcejournalList
ScoreMinisterial score = 30.0, 28-01-2020, ArticleFromJournal
Publication indicators WoS Citations = 0; Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2018 = 1.524; WoS Impact Factor: 2018 = 4.527 (2) - 2018=4.64 (5)
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