Bulletin of environmental contamination and toxicology

Mercury elimination rates for adult northern pike Esox lucius: evidence for a sex effect.

PMID 24667854


We examined the effect of sex on mercury elimination in fish by monitoring isotope-enriched mercury concentrations in the muscle tissue of three adult female and three adult male northern pike Esox lucius, which had accumulated the isotope-enriched mercury via a whole-lake manipulation and were subsequently moved to a clean lake. Mercury elimination rates for female and male northern pike were estimated to be 0.00034 and 0.00073 day(-1), respectively. Thus, males were capable of eliminating mercury at more than double the rate than that of females. To the best of our knowledge, our study represents the first documentation of mercury elimination rates varying between the sexes of fish. This sex difference in elimination rates should be taken into account when comparing mercury accumulation between the sexes of fish from the same population. Further, our findings should eventually lead to an improved understanding of mechanisms responsible for mercury elimination in vertebrates.