As physicochemical properties of the soil highly influence the bioavailable fraction of a particular trace metal, measured metal body burdens in a particular species are often assumed to be more reliable estimators of the contamination of the biota. To test this we compared the Cd, Cu and Zn content of three spiders (generalist predators) and two amphipods (detritivores), co-occurring in seven tidal marshes along the river Schelde, between each other and with the total metal concentrations and the concentrations of four sequential extractions of the soils. Correlations were significant in only one case and significant site×species interactions for all metals demonstrate that factors affecting metal concentration were species and site specific and not solely determined by site specific characteristics. These results emphasize that site and species specific biological factors might be of the utmost importance in determining the contamination of the biota, at least for higher trophic levels. A hypothetical example clarifies these findings.