Accumulation and hazard assessment of mercury to waterbirds at Lake Chapala, Mexico.
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Lake Chapala is the largest tropical lake in Mexico. The objectives of this study were to determine bioaccumulation of Hg in fish and to evaluate the potential impacts of Hg in the diet of aquatic birds, particularly the American white pelican (AWPE), in Lake Chapala. Hg concentrations in three fish species ranged from 0.021 to 0.568 g/g wet weight. Mercury in fish was positively and significantly correlated with total fish length (R2=0.44, P<0.05). The 15N values in fish were significantly correlated with Hg concentrations in Chapala and the San Antonio Reservoir (R2=0.69, P<0.001 and R2=0.40, P<0.001, respectively). However, Hg concentrations in bird feathers were not significantly different between years, among locations, or among species. Hg concentrations in fish from Lake Chapala were within values reported in many parts of the world. The Hg (mean range of 2.75 to 4.54 g/g dw) and D (mean range of -62 to -11) values in bird feathers suggested a wide pattern of exposure for highly migratory AWPE and egrets, although birds with lower D values in feathers appeared to have greater concentrations of Hg than those with higher D values. Contaminant exposure in aquatic birds in Chapala during the breeding season should be monitored next to better determine the potential effects of Hg on resident aquatic birds.