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Yellow perch (Perca flavescens) mercury unaffected by wildland fires in northern MinnesotaAuthor(s): Charlotte E. Riggs; Randall K. Kolka; Edward A. Nater; Emma L. Witt; Trent R. Wickman; Laurel G. Woodruff; Jason T. Butcher
Source: Journal of Environment Quality. 46(3): 623-631.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northern Research Station
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Decade of Research Finds Light-to-Moderate Fire Not Causing Bioaccumulation of Mercury in Fish
DescriptionWildland fire can alter mercury (Hg) cycling on land and in adjacent aquatic environments. In addition to enhancing local atmospheric Hg redeposition, fire can influence terrestrial movement of Hg and other elements into lakes via runoff from burned upland soil. However, the impact of fire on water quality and the accumulation of Hg in fish remain equivocal. We investigated the effects of fire—specifically, a low-severity prescribed fire and moderate-severity wildfire—on young-of- the-year yellow perch (Perca flavescens) and lake chemistry in a small remote watershed in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeastern Minnesota. We used a paired watershed approach: the fire-affected watershed was compared with an adjacent, unimpacted (reference) watershed. Prior to fire, upland organic horizons in the two study watersheds contained 1549 µg Hg m−2 on average. Despite a 19% decrease in upland organic horizon Hg stocks due to the moderate severity wildfire fire, fish Hg accumulation and lake productivity were not affected by fire in subsequent years. Instead, climate and lake water levels were the strongest predictors of lake chemistry and fish responses in our study lakes over 9 yr. Our results suggest that low- to moderate-severity wildland fire does not alter lake productivity or Hg accumulation in young-of-the-year yellow perch in these small, shallow lakes in the northern deciduous and boreal forest region.
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CitationRiggs, Charlotte E.; Kolka, Randall K.; Nater, Edward A.; Witt, Emma L.; Wickman, Trent R.; Woodruff, Laurel G.; Butcher, Jason T. 2017. Yellow perch (Perca flavescens) mercury unaffected by wildland fires in northern Minnesota. Journal of Environment Quality. 46(3): 623-631. https://doi.org/10.2134/jeq2016.10.0418.
- Evaluating the spatial variation of total mercury in young-of-year yellow perch (Perca flavescens), surface water and upland soil for watershed-lake systems within the southern Boreal Shield
- Temporal fluctuations in young-of-the-year yellow perch mercury bioaccumulation in lakes of northeastern Minnesota
- Specific conductance identifies perched and ground water lakes.
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