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Metal transfer along aquatic food chains

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Title: Metal transfer along aquatic food chains
Author: Hare, Landis
Abstract: We are studying processes involved in the transfer of Cd, Ni, Se, and Tl and along aquatic food chains to understand how these trace elements reach upper trophic levels, where they can be consumed by top predators (including humans). We are investigating metal speciation in the field to determine the relative importance of various metal species (e.g., Cd, Ni, and Tl) in nature. Such field measurements also allow us to choose realistic trace element concentrations for use in experiments. In the laboratory, we expose several types of organisms (from algae to insects and oligochaete worms) to Cd, Ni, Se, or Tl to determine the forms (protein-bound, granular, etc.) in which these elements are present in their cells. We also determine how storage and detoxification patterns in prey influence the efficiency of contaminant transfer to consumers (invertebrates and fish). In the case of fish, both the relative importance of food and water as contaminant sources and toxicity are being measured. Lastly, field data are being collected on prey taxa to verify the realism of the trace element concentrations that we measure in the laboratory and to assess the extent of variation among congeners in nature. Our data will allow us to model trace element transfer along food chains, especially for the lesser-studied elements Ni and Tl, as well as to estimate the toxic effects that might occur on upper-level consumers such as fish.
Description: A5. Principal Investigator: Landis Hare
Date: 2010-04-21
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