The distribution of persistent organic pollutants in a trophically complex Antarctic ecosystem model
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Despite Antarctica's isolation from human population centres, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are transported there via long range atmospheric transport and subsequently cold-trapped. The challenging nature of working in the Antarctic environment greatly limits our ability to monitor POP concentrations and understand the processes that govern the distribution of POPs in Antarctic ecosystems. Here we couple a dynamic, trophically complex biological model with a fugacity model to investigate the distribution of hexachlorobenzene (HCB) in a near-shore Antarctic ecosystem. Using this model we examine the steady-state, and annual cycle of HCB concentration in the atmosphere, ocean, sediment, detritus, and 21 classes of biota that span from primary producers to apex predators. The scope and trophic resolution of our model allows us to examine POP pathways through the ecosystem. In our model the main pathway of HCB to upper trophic species is via pelagic communities, with relatively little via benthic communities. Using a dynamic ecosystem model also allows us to examine the seasonal and potential climate change induced changes in POP distribution. We show that there is a large annual cycle in concentration in the planktonic communities, which may have implications for biomagnification factors calculated from observations. We also examine the direct effects of increasing temperature on the redistribution of HCB in a changing climate and find that it is likely minor compared to other indirect effects, such as changes in atmospheric circulation, sea ice dynamics, and changes to the ecosystem itself.
Journal of Marine Systems
Oceanography not elsewhere classified