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Title: Mussels drive polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) biomagnification in a coastal food web
Abstract Despite international regulation, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are routinely detected at levels threatening human and environmental health. While previous research has emphasized trophic transfer as the principle pathway for PCB accumulation, our study reveals the critical role that non-trophic interactions can play in controlling PCB bioavailability and biomagnification. In a 5-month field experiment manipulating saltmarsh macro-invertebrates, we show that suspension-feeding mussels increase concentrations of total PCBs and toxic dioxin-like coplanars by 11- and 7.5-fold in sediment and 10.5- and 9-fold in cordgrass-grazing crabs relative to no-mussel controls, but do not affect PCB bioaccumulation in algae-grazing crabs. PCB homolog composition and corroborative dietary analyses demonstrate that mussels, as ecosystem engineers, amplify sediment contamination and PCB exposure for this burrowing marsh crab through non-trophic mechanisms. We conclude that these ecosystem engineering activities and other non-trophic interactions may have cascading effects on trophic biomagnification pathways, and therefore exert strong bottom-up control on PCB biomagnification up this coastal food web.
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Scientific Reports
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National Science Foundation
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