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Cross-habitat exchange of mercury between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems

Project Abstract: 
The purpose of this study is to investigate the cross-habitat exchange of mercury between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. When the insects emerge out of the water, they transport significant amount of mercury to terrestrial ecosystems. The transported mercury can then be exposed to terrestrial food webs including carnivorous insects, birds and bats. Similarly, aquatic organisms can receive terrestrial mercury via allochthonous sources. This study will utilize stable mercury isotope as a tracer to identify the pathways of mercury transport between two different ecosystems and the extent of exposure to food webs.
Years Active: 
In this study, we will sample aquatic insect larvae at three different sites along the Douglas Lake (West, South, East) and collect adult insects as they emerge out of the water. After the terrestrial organisms have enough time to consume the emergent insects, we will sample the terrestrial insects to see whether they have gained significant aquatic Hg-signature. Aquatic organisms such as sculpin, dace and stickleback which are known to consume allochthonous sources will also be sampled to identify terrestrial mercury-signauture. This will involve the analyses of stable Hg isotopes, mercury concentrations, stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes.
Funding agency: 
M cubed