Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



Methyl Mercury, Bioaccumulation, Arkansas, Trophic levels


The bioaccumulation of mercury through the food chain has received much attention in Arkansas during the last three years. The discovery of mercury contamination and subsequent fish consumption advisories in southwest Arkansas have increased public awareness of the potential for bioaccumulation of different toxic compounds. It is postulated that the mercury problem in Arkansas is a result of methylation and resulting bioaccumulation of mercury as methyl mercury. This study was designed to derive a Bioaccumulation Factor (BAF) for mercury in a simple food chain under controlled conditions. A BAF is calculated by dividing the concentration found in the organism by the concentration found in the available food. The "Producer" trophic level was represented by the green alga, Selenastrum capricornutum. The "Consumer" trophic levels were represented by the water flea, Daphnia magna, and the Fathead Minnow, Pimephales promelas. Growth of the alga in media containing methyl mercury, followed by feeding the contaminated water fleas to the Fathead MInnows resulted in the derivation of BAF for each trophic level.

Report Number

PUB 177