Oct 19, 2018
“Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) Mercury Unaffected by Wildland Fires in Northern Minnesota” with Dr. Randy Kolka and Trent Wickman.
We often hear of the dangers of mercury to pregnant women and children that require them to restrict fish consumption. For good reason – even at low concentrations, mercury can do serious damage to neural networks and reproductive systems. However, we talk little of how the mercury gets in these fish in the first place.
The most common way mercury enters the ecosystem is through the burning of coal; however, it can also volatilize via prescribed and wild fires in forests. From there, it can redistribute into other parts of the ecosystem, such as lakes, and work its way into the food chain. This can hurt the animals that rely on lakes or the fish that live in them to survive. It can also hurt people. For Dr. Randy Kolka and Trent Wickman of the USDA Forest Service, who love the people and wildlife of Northern Minnesota – they had to know more.
They set up a study on two lakes – one that hadn’t seen a fire in over 100 years and one that had a serious fire that covered over 99% of the watershed – and sampled soil, water, and fish to compare mercury levels.
In this episode, they discuss their experimental design, along with a breakdown of the realities of fieldwork. It can be tough carrying heavy equipment or samples of lakewater, let alone camping gear and food; they discuss how they made choices on what to bring, how samples were collected, and how they managed the logistics of the trips.
Tune in to learn this and more:
If you would like more information about this topic, this episode’s paper is available here: https://doi.org/10.2134/jeq2016.10.0418
It will be freely available from 19 October to 2 November, 2018.
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If you would like to reach out to Randy, you can find him here: https://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/people/Kolka firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to reach out to Trent, you can find him here: email@example.com
No Mercury Accumulation in Fish after Fire: https://www.soils.org/discover-soils/story/burn-without-concern
Randy’s additional fire and mercury publications: https://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/people/Kolka
MN Department of Health fish consumption advisories: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/fish/index.html
USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station: https://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/
USDA Forest Service, Air Resource Management R8 & 9: https://webcam.srs.fs.fed.us/
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