Biomagnification - Mercury in the System NAME:______

Biomagnification - Mercury in the System NAME:______

Biomagnification - Mercury in the System NAME:______

Notable Information:

  1. Silver paper clips represent Mercury
  2. Green paper clips represent Algae
  3. Blue paper clips represent something that eats algae- Zooplankton
  4. Pink paper clips eat the Blue organism (Zooplankton) - Crayfish
  5. Red paper clips eat the Purple organism (Crayfish)- Bass


1: Draw the food chain represented by the organisms listed above

2: Roll a dice - this tells you how much mercury your single algae eats.

Ex. roll a 2 (green algae will have 2 silver paperclips on it)

3: Roll dice again, this is how many ALGAE your zooplankton eat

Ex. roll a 3 (you will have to make 2 MORE algae paperclips with 2 silver mercury reps on EACH one)

4: Roll dice, this is how many ZOOPLANKTON your little fish (PURPLE) eat

Ex. roll a 3 (you will have to make 2 MORE zooplankton (BLUE) which each have the green and silver)

5: Roll dice, this is how many LITTLE FISH, your BASS (Red) eats

Ex. roll a 5 (you have to make 4 MORE Purple organisms (with the same number of Blue, Green, and Silver)

6: After you have completed all levels of the food chain, place your data into a data table and graph how much mercury was found at EACH trophic level.

Food Chain:

Data Table:

Organism / Trophic Level / Amount of Hg Trial 1 / Amount of Hg Trial 2 / Amount of Hg Trial 3
Cray Fish

Biomagnification is also called Bioamplification. It is simply the increase in concentration of a substance in a food chain, not an individual organism. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are compounds that biomagnify. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are chemical substances that persist in the environment. These substances bioaccumulate through the food web and pose risk not only to humans but also other living organisms because of their adverse effects. These pollutants consists of pesticides (such as DDT), industrial chemicals (such as polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs) and unintentional by-products of industrial processes (such as dioxins and furans

Conclusion Questions:

1: Explain how the mercury contamination biomagnified up the food chain into the highest organism.

The Borneo “Cat Drop”

“In the early 1950s, there was an outbreak of a serious disease called malaria amongst the Dayak people in Borneo. The World Health Organization tried to solve the problem. They sprayed large amounts of a chemical called DDT to kill the mosquitoes that carried the malaria. The mosquitoes died and there was less malaria. That was good. However, there were side effects. One of the first effects was that the roofs of people's houses began to fall down on their heads. It turned out that the DDT was also killing a parasitic wasp that ate thatch-eating caterpillars. Without the wasps to eat them, there were more and more thatch-eating caterpillars. Worse than that, the insects that died from being poisoned by DDT were eaten by gecko lizards, which were then eaten by cats. The cats started to die, the rats flourished, and the people were threatened by outbreaks of two new serious diseases carried by the rats, sylvatic plague and typhus. To cope with these problems, which it had itself created, the World Health Organization had to parachute live cats into Borneo.” -Patrick T. O’Shaughnessy

2. Relate your results of this activity to what occurred in Borneo with the DDT and why the cats eventually died. EXPLAIN.

3. Explain how this activity relates to how organisms are all interconnected in a food web. DISCUSS

4. There are certain species of fish that are said to contain more mercury contamination that others- WHY would that be the case?

5. Discuss what you learned by doing this activity. (Use correct terms and vocabulary)