Date of Award
Master of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies
Coastal and Marine Systems Science
Juliana M. Harding
Rachel Whitaker; Eric T. Koepfler
Few studies have focused on mercury cycling within salt marsh estuaries. Mummichogs (Fundulus heteroclitus) and Atlantic silversides (Menidia menidia) are two species of forage fish that live year round in South Carolina salt marshes. During high tide, mummichogs feed from the water column, sediment, and off of smooth cordgrass while Atlantic silversides prey upon zooplankton. In this study, total and methyl mercury within mummichogs and Atlantic silversides from Dunn Sound, SC were quantified and compared over four seasons throughout 2014. Gut contents were also quantified and compared to determine if there was a dietary impact on the concentrations of total and methyl mercury in these fish. Atlantic silversides (20-44.8 ng/g THg; 17.1-40.6 ng/g MeHg) had significantly higher whole body total and methyl mercury concentrations than mummichogs (6.2-26.7 ng/g THg; 2.8-19.5 ng/g MeHg; p < 0.01, Two- way ANOVA, Tukey’s Test). There was no significant difference between the percentages of methylmercury in mummichogs and Atlantic silverside (Two-way ANOVA). This suggests that mummichogs and Atlantic silversides assimilate mercury at the same rate. The percent gut contents by weight (%W) and by number (%N) of Atlantic silversides were significantly different than mummichogs (p < 0.01, PREMANOVA). Mummichog gut contents were morediverse consisting of more than ten percent (%W and %N) Arthropods, detritus, and miscellaneous throughout 2014. Atlantic silverside gut contents were dominated by planktonic Arthropods. The differences in mercury concentrations in these two fish may impact the bioaccumulation of mercury in higher trophic level organisms.
Ferons, Daniel P., "A Comparison of Whole Body Mercury Concentrations of Mummichogs (Fundulus heteroclitus) and Atlantic Silversides (Menidia menidia)" (2015). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 16.