Heavy metals in aquatic macrophytes drifting in a large river

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Macrophytes drifting throughout the water column in the Detroit River were collected monthly from May to October 1985 to estimate the quantities of heavy metals being transported to Lake Erie by the plants. Most macrophytes (80–92% by weight) drifted at the water surface. Live submersed macrophytes made up the bulk of each sample. The most widely distributed submersed macrophyte in the river, American wildcelery (Vallisneria americana), occurred most frequently in the drift. A total of 151 tonnes (ash-free dry weight) of macrophytes drifted out of the Detroit River from May to October. The drift was greatest (37 tonnes) in May. Concentrations of heavy metals were significantly higher in macrophytes drifting in the river than in those growing elsewhere in unpolluted waters. Annually, a maximum of 2796 kg (eight heavy metals combined) were transported into Lake Erie by drifting macrophytes. The enrichment of all metals was remarkably high (range: 4000 × to 161000 ×) in macrophytes, relative to their concentration in water of the Detroit River. Detroit River macrophytes are thus a source of contaminated food for animals in the river and in Lake Erie.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Heavy metals in aquatic macrophytes drifting in a large river
Series title Hydrobiologia
DOI 10.1007/978-94-011-3144-5_22
Volume 219
Year Published 1991
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 12 p.
First page 333
Last page 344
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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