Mercury in bird eggs from coastal Maine.
Steven E. Mierzykowski Wing Goodale David Evers Brad Allen Steve Kress Scott Hall
Maine's coastal islands and beaches provide important nesting habitat for piping plover (Charadrius melodus), least tern (Sterna antillarum), common tern (Sterna hirundo), Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea), Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica), black guillemot (Cepphus grylle), and common eider (Somateria mollissima). Little is known, however, about mercury exposure in bird species using coastal beaches and islands. To address this data gap, we determined mercury content in nonviable and abandoned bird eggs collected between 1993 and 2004 from ten locations along the Maine coast. Eighty-two eggs from seven species were collected. Fifty eggs were analyzed individually for mercury and 32 eggs were formed into six species-specific composites prior to analysis. Mercury concentrations in egg samples ranged from 0.07 ug/g to 0.33 ug/g, fresh wet weight. Individual or mean concentrations among species were black guillemot 0.31 ug/g, Atlantic puffin 0.17 ug/g, piping plover 0.17 ug/g, common eider 0.12 ug/g, least tern 0.11 ug/g, common tern 0.11 ug/g and Arctic tern 0.10 ug/g. These mercury concentrations in bird eggs are not elevated compared to suggested embryotoxic thresholds (0.80 ug/g) or ecological effect screening benchmarks (0.50 ug/g). Although elevated mercury levels were not detected in egg samples, additional monitoring is recommended to profile temporal and spatial mercury exposure patterns in birds nesting along the Maine coast.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
http://www.fws.gov/northeast/mainecontaminants/pdf/Hg%20in%20Bird%20Eggs%20Coastal%20ME.pdf, 112 KB
Maine Field Office Environmental Contaminants Program