Mobilization of mercury from forests to lakes

Project Overview
Project Abstract: 
Mercury is a notoriously hazardous pollutant that accumulates in fish, posing health risks to humans who eat fish. From a peak in the 1980s, concentrations of mercury in fish in the Great Lakes region have declined – due to pollution controls – but are again on the rise. The rise, we hypothesize, is a result of increased output of mercury from watersheds, either from a change in the retention of “new” mercury (recently-deposited) or from output of “old” mercury (from a legacy of past deposition). We will test these hypotheses by two approaches: (1) establishment of small watershed studies to monitor the output of mercury in relation to other ecosystem processes and (2) a paleolimnological investigation of sedimentary mercury flux to determine changes in watershed retention of mercury. Ultimately, the research will inform management and policy efforts of the challenges and progress in recovery of inland fisheries of the Great Lakes region from mercury contamination.
Investigator Info
Funding agency: 
USDA McIntire-Stennis
Years research project active: 
2013 to 2016