Mineralization, watershed geochemistry, and metals in fish from a Subarctic River, Alaska

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We report on the levels of trace metals and metalloids in Arctic grayling (Thymallus arcticus), an important freshwater sport and subsistence fish in the Fortymile River, east-central Alaska. Functional biogeochemical baseline values and (or) ranges are presented for 38 major- and trace-elements in the muscle (fillet) and liver of 34 fish collected from 11 sampling sites in the watershed. In addition, we present N-, C-, and S-isotopic data for muscle samples. These data are the first to be reported for Arctic grayling in this region of Alaska. Geometric means for total Hg in muscle and liver tissue are 0.069 and 0.062 ppm, respectively. These levels are more than an order of magnitude below the FDA permissible value for methylmercury in fish fillets. In general, we noted little variation in the elemental concentrations in muscle tissue among samples at each of the 11 fish-sampling sites. No definitive link could be attributed between biogeochemical patterns and regional lithology. Stomach-content chemistry varied widely (relative muscle tissue or liver) and generally reflected sediment chemistry - a component of the ingested material. Stomach-content material was examined for the occurrence and frequency of macroinvertebrates and their chemical composition in three fish. Results showed considerable diversity, with 9 to 15 invertebrate taxa of which both aquatic and terrestrial individuals were found. The N-isotopic compositions of muscle fillet samples are homogeneous (??15N = 7.6 - 9.7 permil), reflecting a restricted, low trophic (primary predator) position for the grayling. C and S isotopic compositions (??13C and ??34S) of fillet samples range from -33.1 to -25.8 permil and -8.4 to 8.2 permil, respectively, suggesting heterogeneity of food sources (both aquatic and terrestrial). Copyright ASCE 2005.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Conference Paper
Publication Subtype:
Conference Paper
Mineralization, watershed geochemistry, and metals in fish from a Subarctic River, Alaska
0784407924; 9780784407929
Year Published:
Larger Work Title:
World Water Congress 2005: Impacts of Global Climate Change - Proceedings of the 2005 World Water and Environmental Resources Congress
First page:
Conference Title:
2005 World Water and Environmental Resources Congress
Conference Location:
Anchorage, AK
Conference Date:
15 May 2005 through 19 May 2005