Ecotoxicoparasitology: Understanding mercury concentrations in gut contents, intestinal helminths and host tissues of Alaskan gray wolves (Canis lupus)

Product Type: 

Journal Article

Year: 

2015

Author(s): 

McGrew, A.K., T.M. O’Hara, C.A. Stricker, M. Castellini, K.B. Beckmen, Mo D. Salman, and L.R. Ballweber

Suggested Citation: 

McGrew, A.K., T.M. O’Hara, C.A. Stricker, M. Castellini, K.B. Beckmen, Mo D. Salman, and L.R. Ballweber. 2015. Ecotoxicoparasitology: understanding mercury concentrations in gut contents, intestinal helminths and host tissues in Alaskan Gray wolves (Canis lupus). Science of the Total Environment 536: 866-871. doi: doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.07.106

Some gastrointestinal helminths acquire nutrients from the lumen contents in which they live; thus, they may be exposed to non-essential elements, such as mercury (Hg), during feeding. The objectives of this study were: 1) determine the total mercury concentrations ([THg]) in Gray wolves (Canis lupus) and their parasites, and 2) use stable isotopes to evaluate the trophic relationships within the host. [THg] and stable isotopes (C and N) were determined for helminths, host tissues, and lumen contents from 88 wolves. Sixty-three wolves contained grossly visible helminths (71.5%). The prevalence of taeniids and ascarids was 63.6% (56/88) and 20.5% (18/88), respectively. Nine of these 63 wolves contained both taeniids and ascarids (14.3%). All ascarids were determined to beToxascaris leoninaTaenia species present included T. krabbei and T. hydatigena. Within the GI tract, [THg] in the lumen contents of the proximal small intestine were significantly lower than in the distal small intestine. There was a significant positive association between hepatic and taeniid [THg]. Bioaccumulation factors (BAF) ranged from < 1 to 22.9 in taeniids, and 1.1 to 12.3 in T. leonina. Taeniid and ascarid BAF were significantly higher than 1, suggesting that both groups are capable of THg accumulation in their wolf host. δ13C in taeniids was significantly lower than in host liver and skeletal muscle. [THg] in helminths and host tissues, in conjunction with stable isotope (C and N) values, provides insight into food-web dynamics of the host GI tract, and aids in elucidating ecotoxicoparasitologic relationships. Variation of [THg] throughout the GI tract, and between parasitic groups, underscores the need to further evaluate the effect(s) of feeding niche, and the nutritional needs of parasites, as they relate to toxicant exposure and distribution within the host.

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