Integrated mercury monitoring program for temperate estuarine and marine ecosystems on the North American Atlantic coast.

Academic Article


  • During the past century, anthropogenic activities have altered the distribution of mercury (Hg) on the earth's surface. The impacts of such alterations to the natural cycle of Hg can be minimized through coordinated management, policy decisions, and legislative regulations. An ability to quantitatively measure environmental Hg loadings and spatiotemporal trends of their fate in the environment is critical for science-based decision making. Here, we outline a Hg monitoring program for temperate estuarine and marine ecosystems on the Atlantic Coast of North America. This framework follows a similar, previously developed plan for freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems in the U.S. Methylmercury (MeHg) is the toxicologically relevant form of Hg, and its ability to bioaccumulate in organisms and biomagnify in food webs depends on numerous biological and physicochemical factors that affect its production, transport, and fate. Therefore, multiple indicators are needed to fully characterize potential changes of Hg loadings in the environment and MeHg bioaccumulation through the different marine food webs. In addition to a description of how to monitor environmental Hg loads for air, sediment, and water, we outline a species-specific matrix of biotic indicators that include shellfish and other invertebrates, fish, birds and mammals. Such a Hg monitoring template is applicable to coastal areas across the Northern Hemisphere and is transferable to arctic and tropical marine ecosystems. We believe that a comprehensive approach provides an ability to best detect spatiotemporal Hg trends for both human and ecological health, and concurrently identify food webs and species at greatest risk to MeHg toxicity.
  • Authors

  • Evers, David C
  • Mason, Robert P
  • Kamman, Neil C
  • Chen, Celia Y
  • Bogomolni, Andrea L
  • Taylor, David L
  • Hammerschmidt, Chad R
  • Jones, Stephen
  • Burgess, Neil M
  • Munney, Kenneth
  • Parsons, Katharine C
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • December 2008
  • Published In

  • Ecohealth  Journal
  • Keywords

  • Animals
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Birds
  • Ecosystem
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Fishes
  • Invertebrates
  • Mammals
  • Mercury
  • North America
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 426
  • End Page

  • 441
  • Volume

  • 5
  • Issue

  • 4