Living With Mercury Sentinels

Water Strider

Water Strider

Mercury is a toxic metal that can accumulate in aquatic organisms. Sources of mercury include mine drainage, manufacturing, and power plant emissions. People want to know if fish from a lake or stream are safe to eat. The answer requires sampling aquatic organisms to determine the mercury levels. Collecting and testing insects can be significantly less expensive and more efficient than testing the fish themselves. This can allow sampling to be expanded to more locations. Water striders are relatively easy to locate, collect and test for mercury.  Levels of mercury in water striders can tightly correlate (> 0.8) with mercury levels in fish.* This makes water striders a useful sentinel for quantifying mercury contamination.

*Timothy D. Jardine, Tom A. Al, Kerry T.B. MacQuarrie, Charles D. Ritchie, Paul A. Arp, Antu Maprani, Richard A. Cunjak. 2005. Water striders: mercury sentinels in small freshwater ecosystems. Environmental Pollution. 134: 165-171.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Environment, Health. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Living With Mercury Sentinels

  1. CollageMama says:

    Is it possible to read this study online?

    • jjneal says:

      You should be able to get it from Science Direct (the first link).
      Many Universities have a subscription.
      I don’t know why the doi gives an error.

  2. That’s interesting. I didn’t know that. Thanks for posting this.

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