Mercury accumulation by lower trophic-level organisms in lentic systems within the Guadalupe River watershed, California

Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5037
By: , and 



The water columns of four reservoirs (Almaden, Calero, Guadalupe and Lexington Reservoirs) and an abandoned quarry pit filled by Alamitos Creek drainage for recreational purposes (Lake Almaden) were sampled on September 14 and 15, 2004 to provide the first measurements of mercury accumulation by phytoplankton and zooplankton in lentic systems (bodies of standing water, as in lakes and reservoirs) within the Guadalupe River watershed, California. Because of widespread interest in ecosystem effects associated with historic mercury mining within and downgradient of the Guadalupe Riverwatershed, transfer of mercury to lower trophic-level organisms was examined. The propensity of mercury to bioaccumulate, particularly in phytoplankton and zooplankton at the base of the food web, motivated this attempt to provide information in support of developing trophic-transfer and solute-transport models for the watershed, and hence in support of subsequent evaluation of load-allocation strategies. Both total mercury and methylmercury were examined in these organisms. During a single sampling event, replicate samples from the reservoir water column were collected and processed for dissolved-total mercury, dissolved-methylmercury, phytoplankton mercury speciation, phytoplankton taxonomy and biomass, zooplankton mercury speciation, and zooplankton taxonomy and biomass. The timing of this sampling event was coordinated with sampling and analysis of fish from these five water bodies, during a period of the year when vertical stratification in the reservoirs generates a primary source of methylmercury to the watershed. Ancillary data, including dissolved organic carbon and trace-metal concentrations as well as vertical profiles of temperature, dissolved oxygen, specific conductance and pH, were gathered to provide a water-quality framework from which to compare the results for mercury. This work, in support of the Guadalupe River Mercury Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Study, provides the first measurements of mercury trophic transfer through planktonic communities in this watershed. It is worth reemphasizing that this data set represents a single ?snap shot? of conditions in water bodies within the Guadalupe River watershed to: (1) fill gaps in trophic transfer information, and (2) provide a scientific basis for future process-based studies with enhanced temporal and spatial coverage. This electronic document was unconventionally formatted to enhance the accessibility of information to a wide range of interest groups.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Mercury accumulation by lower trophic-level organisms in lentic systems within the Guadalupe River watershed, California
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2005-5037
DOI 10.3133/sir20055037
Edition Online only
Year Published 2005
Language ENGLISH
Description 59 p.
Scale 100000
Online Only (Y/N) Y