From water to edible fish. Transfer of metals and metalloids in the San Roque Reservoir (Córdoba, Argentina). Implications associated with fish consumption

Magdalena V. Monferrán, Paola Garnero, María De Los Angeles Bistoni, Ariel Anbar, Gwyneth Gordon, Daniel A. Wunderlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The concentration of Mn, Fe, Zn, Cu, Cd, Cr, Ni, Ag, Mo, Nd, Al, Ce, As, Sr, Pb, Pt and Hg was analysed in water, sediments, and aquatic organisms from the San Roque Reservoir (Córdoba-Argentina), sampled during the wet and dry season, to evaluate their transfer through the food web. Stable nitrogen (δ15N) isotopes were used to investigate trophic interactions. According to this, samples were divided into three trophic groups: plankton, shrimp (Palaemonetes argentinus) and fish (Silverside, Odontesthes bonariensis). Liver and gills are the main heavy metal storage tissues in fish. Hg and As concentrations in the muscle of O. bonariensis exceed the Oral Reference doses for metals established by USEPA (2009). Trophic magnification factors (TMFs) for each element were determined from the slope of the regression between trace element concentrations and δ15N. Calculated TMFs showed fundamental differences in the trophodynamics of the studied elements during the wet and dry season in the San Roque Reservoir. Concentrations of Ni, Cd, Cr, Al, Mn, Fe, Mo, Ce, Nd, Pt and Pb during both seasons, and Sr during the dry season, showed statistically significant decreases (TMF < 1) with increasing trophic levels. Thus these elements were trophically diluted in the San Roque food chain. Conversely, Cu, Ag and As (dry season) showed no significant relationships with trophic levels. Among the elements studied, Hg in the wet season, and Zn in the dry season were the only ones showing a statistically significant increase (TMF > 1) in concentration with trophic level. Current results trigger the need for further studies to establish differential behaviour with different species within the aquatic web, particularly when evaluating the transfer of toxic elements to edible organisms, which could pose health risks to humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-60
Number of pages13
JournalEcological Indicators
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Aquatic organisms
  • Food web
  • Metalloids
  • Metals
  • Trophic transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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