Relationships between mercury body concentrations, standard metabolic rate, and body mass in eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia Holbrooki) from three experimental populations
William A. Hopkins1, Christopher P. Tatara1,2, Heather A. Brant1, and Charles H. Jagoe1
Georgia, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Drawer E, Aiken, South Carolina
Abstract: Eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) were sampled from three experimental populations (two Hg-exposed populations and one reference population) to determine whether transgenerational exposure (lifelong exposure of multiple generations) to Hg adversely affects standard metabolic rate (SMR). Mosquitofish subjected to lifelong Hg exposure accumulated significant concentrations of Hg in their tissues compared to fish from the reference population (mean: 3.89-4.13 vs 0.08 µHg/g wet mass, respectively). Less than 10% of the variability in Hg tissue concentrations could be explained by fish body mass, likely because of the short life span and/or dietary habits of this species. Despite the high body burdens of Hg in exposed fish, we found no significant difference in SMR among individuals from Hg-exposed or reference populations. Our findings contrast recent laboratory work describing elevated SMR in mosquitofish exposed to 100 µg/L dissolved inorganic Hg for 48 h. To account for contrasting results between studies, we hypothesize that acute exposure to dissolved inorganic Hg damages gill epithelium, resulting in increased metabolic rate, but that lifelong Hg exposure via trophic uptake of methyl mercury does not affect fish respiratory structures. Alternative hypotheses include the possibility that G. holbrooki is a species that can tolerate high body burdens of Hg or that more than four years of genetic isolation during Hg exposure (8-12 generations) resulted in selection for Hg-tolerant or -resistant individuals.
Keywords: Mercury, Mosquitofish, Respiration, Standard metabolic rate, Tolerance
SREL Reprint #2653
Hopkins, W. A., C. P. Tatara, H. A. Brant, and C. H. Jagoe. 2003. Relationships between mercury body concentrations, standard metabolic rate, and body mass in eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia Holbrooki) from three experimental populations. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 22:586-590.