Mercury accumulation in two freshwater fish species in Flanders (Belgium). Internal distribution and effects of length, weight and sex.

L. Teunen, Claude Belpaire, Ronny Blust, Lieven Bervoets

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Abstract

Detrimental effects of chemical pollution - primarily caused by human activities - on surface waters and aquatic ecosystems, have increasingly gained attention. This pollution causes destruction of habitat, leading to a decrease in biodiversity. Mercury is the only metal incorporated in the EU list of priority compounds
recommended to be measured in biota, preferably in tissue of prey species (Directive 2013/39/EG). Because of its hydrophobic qualities, mercury is prone to easily bioaccumulate and magnify through the food chain, which will eventually also affect humans. In the present study, accumulated levels of mercury are compared in both muscle and liver tissue of perch (Perca fluviatilis) and European eel (Anguilla anguilla) collected at 15 sampling locations in Flemish (Belgian) waterbodies. These results will create a better insight in respect to which concentrations are accumulated in fish species with different backgrounds as well as the internal distribution within the organism. Furthermore, effects of size, weight and sex are taken into account, since both age and reproduction are expected to have an influence on accumulation and storage of pollutants. The results show a correlation of accumulated mercury with indicators of age
and/or condition (i.e. length, weight. No difference between sexes could be found. Furthermore, a significant difference in accumulated mercury levels between targeted species could be found, with the highest concentrations in
eel. In perch, higher concentrations could be found in muscle compared to liver tissue.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Thematic list

  • Environment

EWI Biomedical sciences

  • B003-ecology

Policy

  • Water Framework Directive

Geographic list

  • Flanders

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