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Biomagnification facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
In biomagnification the concentration of the persistent toxins (crosses) increases higher up the food chain.
Bio-magnification in a pond ecosystem
In this scenario, a pond has been intoxicated. As we go further into the food chain, the toxin concentration increases, causing the top consumer to eventually die of intoxication.

Biomagnification, also known as bioamplification or biological magnification, is any concentration of a toxin, such as pesticides, in the tissues of tolerant organisms at successively higher levels in a food chain. This increase can occur as a result of:

  • Persistence – where the substance cannot be broken down by environmental processes
  • Food chain energetics – where the substance's concentration increases progressively as it moves up a food chain
  • Low or non-existent rate of internal degradation or excretion of the substance – mainly due to water-insolubility

Biological magnification often refers to the process whereby certain substances such as pesticides or heavy metals work their way into lakes, rivers and the ocean, and then move up the food chain in progressively greater concentrations as they are incorporated into the diet of aquatic organisms such as zooplankton, which in turn are eaten perhaps by fish, which then may be eaten by bigger fish, large birds, animals, or humans. The substances become increasingly concentrated in tissues or internal organs as they move up the chain. Bioaccumulants are substances that increase in concentration in living organisms as they take in contaminated air, water, or food because the substances are very slowly metabolized or excreted.

The build up of toxins in a food chain
Biomagnification is the build up of toxins in a food chain. The DDT concentration is in parts per million. As the trophic level increases in a food chain, the amount of toxic build up increases. The x's represent the amount of toxic build up accumulating as the trophic level increases. Toxins build up in organism's fat and tissue. Predators accumulate higher toxins than prey.
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Biomagnification Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.