Mercury levels in seabirds in the Gulf of Maine.
Steven E. Mierzykowski Wing Goodale David Evers Brad Allen Julie C. Ellis Steve Kress Scott Hall Linda Welch
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We conducted a pilot study to screen mercury (Hg) levels in Gulf of Maine seabirds in an effort to determine which species are most at risk, are the most appropriate bioindicators, and to refine sampling methods. From 13 Gulf of Maine islands, we evaluated Hg levels in the eggs or blood of seven species of seabirds: razorbill (Alca torda), black guillemot (Cepphus grille), Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica), double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus), common eider (Somateria mollissima), Leach’s storm-petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa), and common tern (Sterna hirundo). We found: (1) black guillemots (egg mean = 0.66 ppm; juvenile blood mean = 0.11) and double-crested cormorants (egg mean = 0.28; juvenile blood mean = 0.18) had the highest Hg levels; (2) a suggestive relationship between cormorant levels and proximity to river outflows, but not statistically significant (r2 0.17); (3) no significant relationship between cormorant Hg levels and proximity to the mainland (r2 0.007); (4) low cormorant intra-clutch and island variation; and (5) a significant relationship between within cormorant clutch mean egg Hg levels and standard deviation (linear, r2 = 0.67; 2nd degree polynomial, r2 = 0.99). These results indicate that black guillemots, double-crested cormorants, and Leach’s storm-petrels are effective bioindicators of Hg and other containments in the marine environment.
BioDiversity Research Institute
http://www.fws.gov/northeast/mainecontaminants/pdf/BRI2006_08_Report.pdf, 787 KB
Maine Field Office Environmental Contaminants Program