Effects of forest management on mercury bioaccumulation and biomagnification along the river continuum


Forest management can alter the mobilization of mercury (Hg) into headwater streams and its conversion to methylmercury (MeHg), the form that bioaccumulates in and biomagnifies through food webs. As headwater streams are important sources of organic materials and nutrients to larger systems, this connectivity may also increase MeHg in downstream biota through direct or indirect effects of forestry on water quality or food web structure. In this study, we collected water, seston, food sources (biofilm, leaves, organic matter), five macroinvertebrate taxa and fish (slimy sculpin; Cottus cognata) at 6 sites representing different stream orders (1–5) within three river basins with different total disturbances from forestry (both harvesting and silviculture). Methylmercury levels were highest in water and some food sources from the basin with moderate disturbance (greater clearcutting but less silviculture). Water, leaves …

Environmental Pollution
Erik Emilson
Erik Emilson
Research Scientist, Watershed Ecology Team Lead, Associate Editor CJFR

I am interested in how forests support freshwater ecosystem services. My research combines microbial and molecular approaches to undertand how forest productivity and disturbances affect ecosystem functions in headwater streams and lakes.