Document Details

Wetland Management Strategy to Reduce Mercury in Water and Bioaccumulation in Fish

Joshua T. Ackerman, Jacob A. Fleck, Collin A. Eagles-Smith, Mark C. Marvin-DiPasquale, Lisamarie Windham-Myers, Mark P. Herzog, Harry McQuillen | July 25, 2019
Summary

Wetland environments provide numerous ecosystem services but also facilitate methylmercury (MeHg) production and bioaccumulation. We developed a wetland‐management technique to reduce MeHg concentrations in wetland fish and water. We physically modified seasonal wetlands by constructing open‐ and deep‐water treatment cells at the downstream end of seasonal wetlands to promote naturally occurring MeHg‐removal processes. We assessed the effectiveness of reducing mercury (Hg) concentrations in surface water and western mosquitofish that were caged at specific locations within 4 control and 4 treatment wetlands. Methylmercury concentrations in wetland water were successfully decreased within treatment cells during only the third year of study; however, treatment cells were not effective for reducing total Hg concentrations. Furthermore, treatment cells were not effective for reducing total Hg concentrations in wetland fish. Mercury concentrations in fish were not correlated with total Hg concentrations in filtered, particulate, or whole water; and the slope of the correlation with water MeHg concentrations differed between months. Fish total Hg concentrations were weakly correlated with water MeHg concentrations in April when fish were introduced into cages but were not correlated in May when fish were retrieved from cages. Fish total Hg concentrations were greater in treatment wetlands than in control wetlands the year after the treatment wetlands’ construction but declined by the second year. During the third year, fish total Hg concentrations increased in both control and treatment wetlands after an unexpected regional flooding event. Overall, we found limited support for the use of open‐ and deep‐water treatment cells at the downstream end of wetlands to reduce MeHg concentrations in water but not fish. We suggest that additional evaluation over a longer period of time is necessary.

Product Description

Wetland environments provide numerous ecosystem services but also facilitate methylmercury (MeHg) production and bioaccumulation. We developed a wetland‐management technique to reduce MeHg concentrations in wetland fish and water. We physically modified seasonal wetlands by constructing open‐ and deep‐water treatment cells at the downstream end of seasonal wetlands to promote naturally occurring MeHg‐removal processes. We assessed the effectiveness of reducing mercury (Hg) concentrations in surface water and western mosquitofish that were caged at specific locations within 4 control and 4 treatment wetlands. Methylmercury concentrations in wetland water were successfully decreased within treatment cells during only the third year of study; however, treatment cells were not effective for reducing total Hg concentrations. Furthermore, treatment cells were not effective for reducing total Hg concentrations in wetland fish. Mercury concentrations in fish were not correlated with total Hg concentrations in filtered, particulate, or whole water; and the slope of the correlation with water MeHg concentrations differed between months. Fish total Hg concentrations were weakly correlated with water MeHg concentrations in April when fish were introduced into cages but were not correlated in May when fish were retrieved from cages. Fish total Hg concentrations were greater in treatment wetlands than in control wetlands the year after the treatment wetlands’ construction but declined by the second year. During the third year, fish total Hg concentrations increased in both control and treatment wetlands after an unexpected regional flooding event. Overall, we found limited support for the use of open‐ and deep‐water treatment cells at the downstream end of wetlands to reduce MeHg concentrations in water but not fish. We suggest that additional evaluation over a longer period of time is necessary.

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Keywords:

fisheries, mercury, mitigation, water quality, wetlands