Macrophytes drifting through the water column in the Detroit River were collected monthly from May to October 1985 to estimate the quantities of heavy metals being transported to Lake Erie by the plants. Most macrophytes (80-92% by weight) drifted at the water surface. Live submersed macrophytes made up the bulk of each sample. The most widely distributed submersed macrophyte in the river, American wildcelery (Vallisneria americana), occurred most frequently in the drift. A total of 151 tonnes (ash-free dry weight) of macrophytes drifted out of the Detroit River from May to October. The drift was greatest (37 tonnes) in May. Concentrations of heavy metals were significantly higher in macrophytes drifiting in the river than in those growing elsewhere in unpolluted waters. Annually, a maximum of 2796 kg (eight heavy metals combined) were transported into Lake Erie by drifting macrophytes. The enrichment of all metals was remarkably high in macrophytes, relative to their concentration in water of the Detroit River. Detroit River Macrophytes are thus a source of contaminated food for animals in the river and in Lake Erie.
Additional publication details
Heavy metals in aquatic macrophytes drifting in a large river