Bay of Fundy/Gulf of Maine Hg Cycling

Biogeochemistry of mercury in estuaries: Development of a whole ecosystem model for the Bay of Fundy/Gulf of Maine


People: Elsie M. Sunderland (Harvard), Gareth Harding(Fisheries & Oceans Canada), John Dalziel (Environment Canada), Frank Gobas (SFU)

Support: NSERC Strategic Grants Program, Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment

Despite large reductions in mercury emissions from anthropogenic sources in the U.S. and Canada, high mercury levels in wildlife, fish and birds remain a problem in estuaries across North America. The objectives of this research were to: (i) develop a comprehensive ecosystem-based understanding of the environmental fate of anthropogenic mercury in a temperate coastal marine environment; and (ii) formulate a model that links anthropogenic mercury inputs to concentrations in sediments, water and fish that will aid in developing strategies for reducing the impacts of mercury in coastal ecosystems.  Our research focused on the Bay of Fundy & Gulf of Maine ecosystem.


E.M. Sunderland, N. Burgess, A. Amirbahman, G. Harding, E. Kamai, M. Karagas, S. Jones, J. Dalziel, X. Shi, C.Y. Chen. 2012. Mercury sources and fate in the Gulf of Maine. Environmental Research. In press.

E.M. Sunderland, J. Dalziel, A. Heyes, B.A. Branfireun, F.A.P.C. Gobas. Response of a macrotidal estuary to changes in anthropogenic mercury loading between 1850 and 2000. 2010. Environmental Science and Technology, 44(5): 1698-1704.

E.M. Sunderland, M. Cohen, N.E. Selin, G.L. Chmura. Reconciling Models and Measurements to Assess Trends in Atmospheric Mercury Deposition. Environmental Pollution. 2008. 156: 526-535. [pdf]

E.M. Sunderland, F.A.P.C. Gobas, A. Heyes, B.A. Branfireun. Environmental controls on the speciation and distribution of mercury in coastal sediments. Marine Chemistry. 2006. 102: 111-123. [pdf]

A. Heyes, R.P. Mason, E-H. Kim, E. Sunderland. Mercury methylation in estuaries. Marine Chemistry. 2006. 102: 134-147. [pdf]

E.M. Sunderland, F.A.P.C. Gobas, A. Heyes, B.A. Branfireun, A. Bayer, R. Cranston, M. Parsons.Speciation and bioavailability of mercury in well-mixed estuarine sediments.  Marine Chemistry. 2004. 90: 91-105. [pdf]