Reservoir stratification modulates the influence of impoundments on fish mercury concentrations along an arid land river system
Impoundment is among the most common hydrologic alterations with impacts on aquatic ecosystems that can include effects on mercury (Hg) cycling. However, landscape-scale differences in Hg bioaccumulation between reservoirs and other habitats are not well characterized nor are the processes driving these differences. We examined total Hg (THg) concentrations of Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu) collected from reservoir, tailrace, and free-flowing reaches along an 863 km segment of the Snake River, USA, a semiarid river with 22 impoundments along its course. Across three size-classes (putative 1-year-old, first reproductive, and harvestable sized fish), THg concentrations in reservoirs and tailraces averaged 76% higher than those in free-flowing segments. Among reservoirs, THg concentrations were highest in reservoirs with inconsistent stratification patterns, 47% higher than annually stratified, and 144% higher than unstratified reservoirs. Fish THg concentrations in tailraces immediately downstream of stratified reservoirs were higher than those below unstratified (38–130%) or inconsistently stratified (32–79%) reservoirs. Stratification regimes influenced the exceedance of fish and human health benchmarks, with 52–80% of fish from stratifying reservoirs and downstream tailraces exceeding a human consumption benchmark, compared to 6–17% where stratification did not occur. These findings suggest that impoundment and stratification play important roles in determining the patterns of Hg exposure risk across the landscape.
|Reservoir stratification modulates the influence of impoundments on fish mercury concentrations along an arid land river system
|Environmental Science & Technology
|American Chemical Society
|Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
|Google Analytic Metrics