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- Mercury cycling in agricultural and managed wetlands, Yolo Bypass, California: Spatial and seasonal variations in water quality,
- Abstract The seasonal and spatial variability of water quality, including mercury species, was evaluated in agricultural and managed, non-agricultural wetlands in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, an area managed for multiple beneficial uses including bird habitat and rice farming. The study was conducted during an 11-month period (June 2007 to April 2008) that included a summer growing season and flooded conditions during winter. Methylmercury (MeHg) concentrations in surface water varied over a wide range (0.1 to 37 ng L− 1 unfiltered; 0.04 to 7.3 ng L− 1 filtered). Maximum MeHg values are among the highest ever recorded in wetlands. Highest MeHg concentrations in unfiltered surface water were observed in drainage from wild rice fields during harvest (September 2007), and in white rice fields with decomposing rice straw during regional flooding (February 2008). The ratio of MeHg to total mercury (MeHg/THg) increased about 20-fold in both unfiltered and filtered water during the growing season (June to August 2007) in the white and wild rice fields, and about 5-fold in fallow fields (July to August 2007), while there was little to no change in MeHg/THg in the permanent wetland. Sulfate-bearing fertilizer had no effect on Hg(II) methylation, as sulfate-reducing bacteria were not sulfate-limited in these agricultural wetlands. Concentrations of MeHg in filtered and unfiltered water correlated with filtered Fe, filtered Mn, DOC, and two indicators of sulfate reduction: the SO42 −/Cl− ratio, and δ34S in aqueous sulfate. These relationships suggest that microbial reduction of SO42 −, Fe(III), and possibly Mn(IV) may contribute to net Hg(II)-methylation in this setting., , ,
- Alpers, Fleck, Marvin-DiPasquale, Stricker, Stephenson, Taylor
- Mercury cycling in agricultural and managed wetlands: A synthesis of methylmercury production, hydrologic export, and bioaccumulation from an integrated field study
- With seasonal wetting and drying, and high biological productivity, agricultural wetlands (rice paddies) may enhance the conversion of inorganic mercury (Hg(II)) to methylmercury (MeHg), the more toxic, organic form that biomagnifies through food webs. Yet, the net balance of MeHg sources and sinks in seasonal wetland environments is poorly understood because it requires an annual, integrated assessment across biota, sediment, and water components. We examined a suite of wetlands managed for rice crops or wildlife during 2007-2008 in California's Central Valley, in an area affected by Hg contamination from historic mining practices. Hydrologic management of agricultural wetlands for rice, wild rice, or fallowed - drying for field preparation and harvest, and flooding for crop growth and post-harvest rice straw decay - led to pronounced seasonality in sediment and aqueous MeHg concentrations that were up to 95-fold higher than those measured concurrently in adjacent, non-agricultural permanently-flooded and seasonally-flooded wetlands. Flooding promoted microbial MeHg production in surface sediment of all wetlands, but extended water residence time appeared to preferentially enhance MeHg degradation and storage. When incoming MeHg loads were elevated, individual fields often served as a MeHg sink, rather than a source. Slow, horizontal flow of shallow water in the agricultural wetlands led to increased importance of vertical hydrologic fluxes, including evapoconcentration of surface water MeHg and transpiration-driven advection into the root zone, promoting temporary soil storage of MeHg. Although this hydrology limited MeHg export from wetlands, it also increased MeHg exposure to resident fish via greater in situ aqueous MeHg concentrations. Our results suggest that the combined traits of agricultural wetlands - slow-moving shallow water, manipulated flooding and drying, abundant labile plant matter, and management for wildlife - may enhance microbial methylation of Hg(II) and MeHg exposure to local biota, as well as export to downstream habitats during uncontrolled winter-flow events.
- Windham-Myers, Fleck, Ackerman, Marvin-DiPasquale, Stricker, Heim, Bachand, Eagles-Smith, Gill, Stephenson, Alpers