Selenium and mercury in native and introduced fish species of Patagonian lakes, Argentina.
A survey of mercury (Hg) and selenium (Se) contents was performed in fish collected from lakes located in two National Parks of the northern patagonian Andean range. Two native species, catfish (Diplomystes viedmensis) and creole perch (Percichthys trucha), and three introduced species, brown trout (Salmo trutta), rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), were caught from lakes Nahuel Huapi, Moreno, Traful, Espejo Chico, and Guillelmo belonging to Nahuel Huapi National Park and from lakes Futalaufquen and Rivadavia, Los Alerces National Park. In lake Moreno, fish diet items were analyzed and rainbow trout grown in a farm. Hg and Se were measured in muscle and liver tissues by instrumental neutron activation analysis. The average concentrations in muscle of Hg for all species, ages, and lakes are between 0.4 to 1.0 µg g-1 dry weight (DW) with a few fish, mainly native, exceeding the United States Environmental Protection Agency health advisory for freshwater fish limited consumption, and from 0.8 to 1.5 µg g-1 DW for Se. Average concentrations in liver of Hg in all species range from 0.4 to 0.9 µg g-1 DW. Brown trout, the top predator in these lakes, showed the lowest average Hg burden in both tissues. Se concentrations in the liver of brown and rainbow trout, up to 279 µg g-1 DW, are higher than those expected for nearly pristine lakes, exceeding 20 µg g-1 DW, the threshold concentration associated with Se toxicity. These species show lower Hg contents in muscle, suggesting a possible detoxification of Hg by a Se-rich diet. Creole perch and velvet catfish livers have lower Se concentrations, with a narrower span of values (2.3 to 8.5 µg g-1 and 3.3 to 5.5 µg g-1 DW respectively).