Mercury and persistent organic pollutants in native and invading forage species of the Canadian Arctic: Consequences for food web dynamics.Environ Pollut. 2017 Oct; 229:229-240.EP
Contaminant dynamics within Arctic marine food webs may be altered through the climate-driven northward invasions of temperate/boreal species. Here, we compare tissue concentrations of total mercury (THg) and legacy and emerging persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in native versus invading forage species sampled from 2012 to 2014 near Arviat, Clyde River, and Resolute Bay, NU, representing, low, mid- and high eastern Canadian Arctic regions, respectively. Concentrations of THg, legacy Σ-polychlorinated biphenyls (ΣPCB) and Σ-organochlorine (ΣOC) pesticides were detected in all forage species, whereas emerging halogenated flame retardants were detected in only a few individuals. Concentrations of major contaminant groups among regions did not vary for Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida), while for sculpin (Cottoidea) there was no clear latitudinal trend. Thus, considering interspecific variation, native sculpin and northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) had the highest overall concentrations of THg (0.17 ± 0.02 and 0.21 ± 0.01 μg g-1 wet weight, respectively), ΣPCB (322 ± 35 and 245 ± 25 ng g-1 lipid weight (lw), respectively), and ΣOC (413 ± 38 and 734 ± 64 ng g-1 lw, respectively). Comparing the keystone native species, Arctic cod, to its 'replacement' species, capelin (Mallotus villosus) and sandlance (Ammodytes spp.), THg concentrations were higher in Arctic cod compared to capelin (p < 0.001), which was partly explained by differences in fish length. Conversely, capelin and sandlance had higher concentrations of most POPs than Arctic cod (p < 0.02). Neither feeding habitat (based on δ13C), trophic position (based on δ15N), nor fish length significantly explained these differences in POPs between Arctic cod, capelin and sandlance. Higher POPs concentrations, as well as variation in congener/compound patterns, in capelin and sandlance relative to Arctic cod seem, therefore, more likely related to a more "temperate"-type contaminant signature in the invaders. Nevertheless, the relatively small (up to two-fold) magnitude of these differences suggested limited effects of these ecological changes on contaminant uptake by Arctic piscivores.