Special Section on the 9th International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant

Mercury in an ultraoligotrophic North Patagonian Andean lake (Argentina):Concentration patterns in di erent components of the water column

Mar′?a Arrib′ere , Mar′?a C Di′eguez , Sergio Ribeiro Guevara , Claudia P Queimali?nos , Vesna Fajon , Mariana Reissig , Milena Horvat


Received ,Revised , Accepted , Available online

Volume 22,2010,Pages 1171-1178

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The deep, ultraoligotrophic piedmont lakes of Northern Patagonia (Argentina) are located in pristine and barely impacted areas, along a wide latitudinal range. Several studies have reported moderate to high total mercury (Hg) concentrations and contrasting methylmercury (CH3Hg+) production in di erent lake compartments. Sources of Hg for western Patagonian terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems are still not clear; while point sources can be ruled out and atmospheric deposition is a plausible source, along with contribution from active volcanic areas of the Andes. In this investigation, we reported a noticeably seasonal, spatial (between lake branches), and vertical (between water column strata) heterogeneity in the total Hg concentrations found in the pelagic zone of Lake Moreno. Sterile water samples taken in a depth profile of the lake showed moderate to high concentrations of CH3Hg+ in autumn with a decreasing trend with depth. Our results indicated that Hg is largely allocated in the plankton fraction between 10–53 m; which dominated within the euphotic (epilimnetic) zone of the lake due to the high densities attained by two species of the dinoflagellate Gymnodinium. The 53–200 m planktonic size fraction (comprising rotifers, ciliates and immature stages of crustaceans) and the > 200 m fraction (calanoid copepods and cladocerans) were found to bear strikingly lower total Hg concentrations, suggesting that the magnification of Hg at the planktonic consumer level is negligible.

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