Title

Variation in Total Mercury Content of Spiders from Coal-Impacted Areas in Central Pennsylvania

Item Type

Poster

Location

Elaine Langone Center, Terrace Room

Session

Poster session

Start Date

10-11-2017 8:00 PM

End Date

10-11-2017 9:59 PM

Keywords

Central Pennsylvania, mercury, spider, coal mining

Description

Mercury is a persistent environmental contaminant that primarily originates from coal-fired power plants. Methylmercury biomagnifies as it moves through food chains, reaching toxic levels in apex predators. Aquatic rather than terrestrial communities are thought to be more impacted by mercury contamination putatively because aquatic food chains are longer and therefore more susceptible to biomagnification. Recent studies however suggest that mercury transport is complex and may involve recursive loops through multiple terrestrial and aquatic food chains. Some spiders can concentrate mercury at high levels, even exceeding levels found in fish. Since spiders can occupy positions within detrital, terrestrial, and aquatic food chains, trophic pathway for mercury biomagnification are difficult to discern. This study examines mercury levels among spider taxa near various coal-impacted areas near and away from aquatic systems. During the last three years, over 3000 spiders have been collected and identified from over 26 sites in Central Pennsylvania. Collecting sites from mining-impacted areas included riparian zones and river islands adjacent to a coal-fired power plant, the perimeter of a coal ash burial site, ponds formed from abandoned surface mining, uncontrolled mine-fire sites, and remediation ponds from an AMD-impacted creek. Mercury levels from these coal-impacted areas were compared to agricultural and headwater stream reference sites away from mining and coal burning areas. Results to date indicate that spiders, especially ground spiders, are particularly good bioindicators of mercury mobilization across aquatic and terrestrial interfaces within coal-impacted areas but that aquatic sources are important, but not necessary for significant trophic transfer among terrestrial arthropod predators.

Language

eng

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Nov 10th, 8:00 PM Nov 10th, 9:59 PM

Variation in Total Mercury Content of Spiders from Coal-Impacted Areas in Central Pennsylvania

Elaine Langone Center, Terrace Room

Mercury is a persistent environmental contaminant that primarily originates from coal-fired power plants. Methylmercury biomagnifies as it moves through food chains, reaching toxic levels in apex predators. Aquatic rather than terrestrial communities are thought to be more impacted by mercury contamination putatively because aquatic food chains are longer and therefore more susceptible to biomagnification. Recent studies however suggest that mercury transport is complex and may involve recursive loops through multiple terrestrial and aquatic food chains. Some spiders can concentrate mercury at high levels, even exceeding levels found in fish. Since spiders can occupy positions within detrital, terrestrial, and aquatic food chains, trophic pathway for mercury biomagnification are difficult to discern. This study examines mercury levels among spider taxa near various coal-impacted areas near and away from aquatic systems. During the last three years, over 3000 spiders have been collected and identified from over 26 sites in Central Pennsylvania. Collecting sites from mining-impacted areas included riparian zones and river islands adjacent to a coal-fired power plant, the perimeter of a coal ash burial site, ponds formed from abandoned surface mining, uncontrolled mine-fire sites, and remediation ponds from an AMD-impacted creek. Mercury levels from these coal-impacted areas were compared to agricultural and headwater stream reference sites away from mining and coal burning areas. Results to date indicate that spiders, especially ground spiders, are particularly good bioindicators of mercury mobilization across aquatic and terrestrial interfaces within coal-impacted areas but that aquatic sources are important, but not necessary for significant trophic transfer among terrestrial arthropod predators.