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High methylmercury formation in ponds fueled by fresh humic and algal derived organic matter
Citation key doi:10.1002/lno.10722
Author Herrero Ortega, Sonia and Catalán, Núria and Björn, Erik and Gröntoft, Hannes and Hilmarsson, Torfi Geir and Bertilsson, Stefan and Wu, Pianpian and Bishop, Kevin and Levanoni, Oded and Bravo, Andrea G.
Pages S44-S53
Year 2018
DOI 10.1002/lno.10722
Journal Limnology and Oceanography
Volume 63
Number S1
Abstract Abstract Neurotoxic methylmercury causes adverse effects to ecosystem viability and human health. Previous studies have revealed that ponding alters natural organic matter (NOM) composition and increase methylmercury concentrations in rivers, especially in the first years after flooding. Here, we investigate the influence of NOM composition (i.e., sources and degradation status) on mercury methylation rate constants in nine boreal beaver ponds of different ages across Sweden. We show that increased methylmercury concentrations in surface waters is a consequence of enhanced mercury methylation in the pond sediments. Moreover, our results reveal that during the first years after the initial flooding, mercury methylation rates are fueled by the amount of fresh humic substances released from the flooded soils and by an increased production of algal-derived NOM triggered by enhanced nutrient availability. Our findings indicate that impoundment-induced changes in NOM composition control mercury methylation processes, causing the raise in MeHg levels in ponds.
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