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National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project

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Mercury in Stream Ecosystems

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Sources, Storage, and Transport of Mercury in the Upper Hudson River Basin—Fishing Brook

Group II studies combine empirical and processed based modeling approaches to improve the understanding of key processes that affect storage, transport, and transformations of mercury in stream ecosystems.  The Group II studies are focused in two watersheds, the Upper Hudson River Basin, in the central Adirondack region of New York, and the Edisto River Basin, in the coastal plain of South Carolina. These areas provide contrasting and complementary settings for the study of mercury cycling and bioaccumulation in headwater streams with close connectivity to out-of-channel wetlands. Atmospheric deposition is the dominant source of mercury in both of these mostly forested watersheds.
Fishing Brook Creek 
The Upper Hudson Basin study is focused in Fishing Brook, a small headwater stream that drains about 25 square miles and contains about 89% forest, 8% wetlands, and 3% open water. The dominant biogeochemical processes and hydrologic connectivity of wetlands favor the conversion of inorganic mercury to bioavailable methylmercury. A wide variety of hydro-ecological classes of wetlands occur throughout the Fishing Brook watershed, including alder and evergreen dominated wetlands, deciduous shrub wetlands, emergent marshes, and some scattered open peatlands.

The Fishing Brook site is located upstream of the Huntington Wildlife Forest, a 6,000 ha field station in the central Adirondack Mountains.  Samples collected within the Fishing Brook watershed are routinely processed at the Adirondack Ecological Center. Mercury cycling has been studied in detail in a nearby watershed as part of the Mercury Biocomplexity Study, a multi-university research effort. Additional links: USGS New York Water Science Center: Watersheds Research Section | Streamflow Hudson River at Newcomb, NY | Hudson Basin fact sheet | Hudson NAWQA Study

For more information regarding the NAWQA mercury study in Fishing Brook, please contact Karen Riva-Murray at

Location of Fishing Brook basin

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