Bioaccumulation and biomagnification of mercury and methylmercury in four sympatric coastal sharks in a protected subtropical lagoon

Adam G. Matulik, David W. Kerstetter, Neil Hammerschlag, Timothy Divoll, Chad R. Hammerschmidt, David C. Evers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Mercury bioaccumulation is frequently observed in marine ecosystems, often with stronger effects at higher trophic levels. We compared total mercury (THg) and methylmercury (MeHg) from muscle with length, comparative isotopic niche, and diet (via δ13C and δ15N) among four sympatric coastal sharks in Florida Bay (USA): blacknose, blacktip, bull, and lemon. Mercury in blacknose and blacktip sharks increased significantly with size, whereas bull and lemon sharks had a high variance in mercury relative to size. Both δ13C and δ15N were consistent with general resource use and trophic position relationships across all species. A significant relationship was observed between δ13C and mercury in blacktip sharks, suggesting an ontogenetic shift isotopic niche, possibly a dietary change. Multiple regression showed that δ13C and δ15N were the strongest factors regarding mercury bioaccumulation in individuals across all species. Additional research is recommended to resolve the mechanisms that determine mercury biomagnification in individual shark species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-364
Number of pages8
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume116
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 15 2017

Keywords

  • Apex predators
  • Florida Bay
  • Mercury
  • Sharks
  • Stable isotopes
  • Trophic transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution

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