John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Mercury bioaccumulation in dragonflies (Odonata: Anisoptera): Examination of life stages and body regions

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Dragonflies (Odonata: Anisoptera) are an important component of both aquatic and terrestrial food webs and are vectors for methylmercury (MeHg) biomagnification. Variations in mercury content with life stage and body regions may affect the relative transfer of mercury to aquatic or terrestrial food webs; however, there has been little research on this subject. Also, little is known about mercury bioaccumulation in different body regions of dragonflies. In order to address these knowledge gaps, dragonfly naiads, adults, and exuviae were collected at two lakes in Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia and mercury concentrations in different life stages and body regions were quantified. Mean whole body concentrations of MeHg were substantial in naiads (232 ± 112 ng g‐1 d.w., n=66), emerging adults (236 ± 50 ng g‐1 d.w., n=10), and mature adults (231 ± 74 ng g‐1 d.w., n=20). Mean MeHg concentrations in exuviae (5.6 ± 4.3 ng g‐1, n=32) were 40‐fold lower than in naiads and adults. Emerging adults had 2 to 2.5‐fold higher Hg(II) concentrations than naiads, mature adults, and exuviae. In body regions of both naiads and adults, some abdomens contained significantly higher concentrations of Hg(II) than heads or thoraces, and this trend was consistent across families. Across families, Aeshnidae had significantly higher concentrations of MeHg and Total Hg than Gomphidae and Libellulidae, but not higher than Cordulidae. Hg(II) concentrations were lower in Aeshnidae and Libellulidae than Gomphidae and Cordulidae. Shedding of exuviae presents a possible mechanism for mercury detoxification, but mercury concentrations and burdens in exuviae are low in comparison with naiads and adults. Dragonfly adults retain a high potential for transferring substantial amounts of MeHg to their predators. Environ Toxicol Chem © 2014 SETAC

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