The concentration and biomagnification of trace metals and metalloids across four trophic levels in a marine food web

Alethea Madgett, Kyari Yates* (Corresponding Author), Lynda Webster, Craig McKenzie, Colin Moffat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


To be able to assess progress towards “Good Environmental Status” adopted across European Member States, and by the United Kingdom through its 3-stage Marine Strategy, contaminant concentrations and their biological effects need to be assessed in environmental samples by comparison to assessment criteria. This study examines the variability of concentrations (inter- and intra- species variation) of three priority heavy metals (Hg, Cd and Pb) and six additional trace metals and metalloids (As, Ni, Se, Zn, Cu and Cr) in twenty-three species across four trophic levels from different locations around Scotland. Trophic magnification factors (TMFs) were calculated using two methods for metals/metalloids possessing a significant trophic relationship (Hg, Cd, Cu, Ni and Zn) to refine and improve the application of TMFs to assess and predict biomagnification risk of metals/metalloids to biota in the environment. It was concluded that a reasonable balance in sample numbers of lower- versus higher-trophic level organisms is highly recommended when calculating TMFs and appropriate species selection is vital to ensure TMFs accurately represent the selected ecosystem.
Original languageEnglish
Article number112929
Number of pages14
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue numberpart A
Early online date14 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

The authors thank Eric Dalgarno, Judith Scurfield and Jean-Pierre Lacaze at Marine Scotland Science for providing training and analytical assistance; staff and crews of MRV Scotia, MRV Alba na Mara and MRV Temora for assistance with sample collection; Stephen Warnes for the microstructure examination of otoliths; Anneka Madgett for illustration design. This work was funded by the Scottish Government, UK and Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK.


  • Trophic
  • Metals
  • Metalloids
  • Assessment
  • Marine
  • Biomagnification
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Contamination


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