The influence of river plume dynamics on trace metal accumulation in calanoid copepods

Wright, Derek D., Thomas K. Frazer, and John R. Reinfelder

Limnol. Oceanogr., 55(6), 2010, 2487-2502 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2010.55.6.2487

ABSTRACT: The concentrations of Ag, Cd, Cu, Hg(II), monomethylmercury (MeHg), Pb, and Zn were measured and modeled in calanoid copepods collected from the Hudson River plume in April 2005 and May 2006. Copepods in the buoyant plume were significantly (p < 0.05) enriched in Ag, Cu, Pb, Zn, and MeHg (2- to 25-fold), but depleted in Cd (by 25-40%) relative to oceanic copepods. Median burdens of Ag, Cu, and Hg(II) differed in plume copepods collected in April 2005 and May 2006 by factors of 1.5 to 3, reflecting the influence of river discharge and associated physical processes on plankton dynamics and metal bioaccumulation. Only the concentrations of Cu and Zn in plume copepods clearly showed the expected trend of highest levels near the mouth of the Hudson River and lower levels offshore. Spatial trends in concentrations of Ag and Hg(II) in plume copepods were strikingly different from those in suspended particles and the dissolved phase, apparently reflecting differences in metal bioavailability because of shifts in available food types. Modeled concentrations of Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn in plume copepods were within less than a factor of two of measured values, but model results showed that Hg(II) was less bioavailable, and Ag and MeHg were more bioavailable in the Hudson River plume than laboratory results would predict. Zooplankton from urban river plumes may accumulate potentially toxic levels of trace metals or act as a trophic link between metal contamination in polluted estuaries and pelagic ecosystems.

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