Trophic transfer of pollutants within two intertidal rocky shore ecosystems in different biogeographic regions of South Africa
Smit, Nico J.
Nakayama, Shouta M.M.
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Tsitsikamma and Sheffield Beach are two relatively pristine sites along the South African east coast representing warm temperate and subtropical biogeographic rocky shore intertidal ecosystems, respectively. Stable isotopes (δ15N and δ13C), metals and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) were measured in 38 intertidal components to study biomagnification or biodilution of metals and OCPs in these marine food webs. Comparison of the four species common to both sites revealed that the highest Al, Fe and OCP concentrations were measured in intertidal organisms from Sheffield Beach and was attributed to diffuse input into the nearshore marine environment sources via estuaries and groundwater. All other metals were higher in intertidal organisms from Tsitsikamma and were attributed to the metal-rich phytoplankton blooms during upwelling events. There was no correlation between metal and OCP accumulation and dietary source (δ13C) or trophic level (δ15N). The application of trophic magnification factors (TMFs) using a relatively short benthic food chain indicated biomagnification for As, Cd, Cu, Se and Zn and biodilution of OCPs at both sites. Since these food chains represent only a small portion of the intertidal ecosystems we found limited evidence of biomagnification or biodilution of metals and OCPs across species. This was attributed to different dietary sources in the same food web and similar trophic levels being occupied by the same species in different food chains. We found that food web composition rather than temperature-based biogeographical distribution influenced trophic transfer of metals and OCPs