Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Chemistry and Pharmacology
Abstract Mercury levels in fish have been demonstrated to increase after impoundment with augmented levels of mercury predicted to decline as the reservoir ages. Previous research in Newfoundland predicted return rates in the order of 10 to 12 years for landlocked Atlantic salmon or ouananiche (Salmo salar) and 7 years for brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). In order to test the validity of these predictions on a broader spatial and temporal scale, and develop more generally predictive ‘models’, mercury levels in three fish species were studied in 16 older Newfoundland hydroelectric reservoirs of various age (32 to 95 years) and area flooded (21 to 13,000 ha). Mercury concentrations were standardized to fish length and correlated with physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the sampling sites. Standard length mercury levels ranged from 0.23 to 0.86 ppm in ouananiche, 0.13 to 0.59 ppm in brook trout, and 0.22 to 0.72 in arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus). Fish in excess of the Canadian Safety Limit (0.5 ppm) were collected from 14 of 16 sites for ouananiche, 8 of 17 sites for brook trout, and 3 of 7 sites for arctic charr, including control lakes. Standard length fish mercury levels were correlated with reservoir age and (log10) area flooded for ouananiche and with pH for arctic charr. A multiple regression model was developed relating standard length mercury in ouananiche with reservoir age and log10 of the flooded area. There were no apparent relationship between reservoir characteristics and brook trout mercury concentrations. Based on this analysis, it is not possible, at present, to develop generally predictive models for all species found in Newfoundland impoundments.
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