Bioaccumulation Vs Biomagnification

bioaccumulation Vs biomagnification

It is a fact that food chains are important associations or links in the eco system and usually start with a producer or vegetative plants that can manufacture food for themselves.  The next level in food chains is that of herbivores followed by carnivores.  What happens is that the food which is produced or manufactured at the bottom is transferred to the upper levels. Thus whatever the substances in the lower tropic levels can be transferred onto the upper levels together with the nutrients.

Biomagnifications and bioaccumulation of substances are processes which are considered important if these substances are in any way harmful to organisms. They are both different from one another and have their own set of specifications. If you wish to know more about the processes and the comparison between them, you can read the following given information.

bioaccumulation Vs biomagnification


Bioaccumulation is the process of accumulation of substances in living organisms and takes places over a certain length of time.  These accumulated substances include chemicals, pesticides and even heavy metals and they usually enter the systems through food chains.  The levels at the lower tropic levels of food chains tend to gather or accumulate less concentration of substances than the levels above.

Bodies usually have a method to remove all the unwanted or toxic substances and bioaccumulation begins when the accumulating rate becomes higher than the removal rate. Bioaccumulative substances tend to be fat soluble and cannot be broken down to smaller molecules.  Thus they have a tendency to remain inside the body.


Biomagnifications on the other end is the process in which an increase in the substance concentration takes place as you go higher in the food chain. In order for this process to take place, the pollutants must be long lived.  Also, these pollutants must be mobile so that they can easily enter the biological systems by the means of water and food.  If the pollutants are not mobile, then they will remain inside one organism and may not move on or pass on to the next tropic level.

In case the pollutants are soluble in fat, they will have a tendency to remain inside the bodies of the organisms for an extended period of time.  Another requirement that the pollutants must fulfill is to be biologically active.  Some examples of toxic substances which can be biomagnified include heavy metals like zinc, lead, mercury, cadmium and others.

Bioaccumulation vs. Biomagnifications

The following is a list of some of the differences between both these processes:

  • The first and major difference or points of comparison between these processes is that where on one hand, bioaccumulation is the increase in the concentration of a substance inside an organism, on the other hand, biomagnification is the increase in the level as one goes higher up in the food chain.
  • Another difference between these two processes is that bioaccumulation takes place or occurs within a given tropic level whereas on the other hand, biomagnification takes place between two given tropic levels.


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