Global mercury concentrations in biota: Their use as a basis for a global biomonitoring framework

By: , and 



An important provision of the Minamata Convention on Mercury is to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the adopted measures and its implementation. Here, we describe for the first time currently available biotic mercury (Hg) data on a global scale to improve the understanding of global efforts to reduce the impact of Hg pollution on people and the environment. Data from the peer-reviewed literature were compiled in the Global Biotic Mercury Synthesis (GBMS) database (>550,000 data points). These data provide a foundation for establishing a biomonitoring framework needed to track Hg concentrations in biota globally. We describe Hg exposure in the taxa identified by the Minamata Convention: fish, sea turtles, birds, and marine mammals. Based on the GBMS database, Hg concentrations are presented at relevant geographic scales for continents and oceanic basins. We identify some effective regional templates for monitoring methylmercury (MeHg) availability in the environment, but overall illustrate that there is a general lack of regional biomonitoring initiatives around the world, especially in Africa, Australia, Indo-Pacific, Middle East, and South Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Temporal trend data for Hg in biota are generally limited. Ecologically sensitive sites (where biota have above average MeHg tissue concentrations) have been identified throughout the world. Efforts to model and quantify ecosystem sensitivity locally, regionally, and globally could help establish effective and efficient biomonitoring programs. We present a framework for a global Hg biomonitoring network that includes a three-step continental and oceanic approach to integrate existing biomonitoring efforts and prioritize filling regional data gaps linked with key Hg sources. We describe a standardized approach that builds on an evidence-based evaluation to assess the Minamata Convention’s progress to reduce the impact of global Hg pollution on people and the environment.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Global mercury concentrations in biota: Their use as a basis for a global biomonitoring framework
Series title Ecotoxicology
DOI 10.1007/s10646-024-02747-x
Edition Online First
Year Published 2024
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Western Ecological Research Center
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