Climate impact on coastal ecosystem methylmercury: human exposure implications
Celia Chen, Ph.D.
Researchers from Dartmouth college are examining how climate change will effect methylmercury and its exposure risks. People can be exposed to methylmercury through consuming marine fish and shellfish. The investigators are using laboratory and field studies as well as integrative modeling to determine the effects of temperature, nutrient, and carbon loading on the bioaccumulation of methylmercury in coastal ecosystems by primary producers, and between primary and secondary consumers in estuarine food webs. Using this information, they are predicting how climate-induced changes to bioaccumulation in coastal food webs will increase exposure and risk to sensitive populations. The experimental results as well as resultant ecosystem and mercury exposure models can be used by coastal managers, state and federal agencies, and other stakeholders to address and mitigate the effects of methylmerucry bioaccumulation in coastal fisheries.