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Concentrations of total mercury (THg) were determined for seven lower trophic level biota: plankton (>153 μm), anchovies (Anchoa hepsetus), crown conchs (Melongena corona), tulip snails (Fasciolaria tulipa), mullet (Mugil cephalus), pinfish (Lagodon rhomboids) and blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) from the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) to better understand Hg biomagnification. Plankton in the IRL had about three times more THg than plankton from fairly pristine locations. Biomagnification of Hg was traced with increasing trophic level (TL) from plankton to anchovies. Resulting data were used to calculate a trophic magnification slope (TMS) of 0.23 that can be used to predict Hg concentrations in higher trophic level biota from the IRL. For example, if Hg concentrations in plankton were lowered from 42 to 13 ng/g, Hg concentrations in higher trophic level biota, including bottlenose dolphins, would decrease by ~70%.

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Faculty Advisors: John Trefry and Kevin B. Johnson



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