Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
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Assessing contaminants of emerging concern in herring gull eggs of the Great Lakes
Midwest Region, September 22, 2015
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A herring gull incubates eggs in Saginaw Bay, Michigan.
A herring gull incubates eggs in Saginaw Bay, Michigan. - Photo Credit: USFWS
Herring gull on nest.
Herring gull on nest. - Photo Credit: USFWS
Herring gull chick and eggs.
Herring gull chick and eggs. - Photo Credit: Ketih Grasman, Calvin College.

As part of the Great Lakes Herring Gull Monitoring Program, the Canadian Wildlife Service has collected herring gull eggs for over 30 years to track the status and trends of legacy contaminants across the Great Lakes basin. More recent collections by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with Canada, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and partners at Michigan State University, Clemson University and the University of Maryland have added to this monitoring program. Recent research regarding contaminants of emerging concern, which include pharmaceuticals, personal care products, agricultural chemicals and wastewater treatment plant byproducts, have prompted the Canadian Wildlife Service to analyze archived samples to evaluate levels and trends within the Canadian Great Lakes. In an effort to characterize the contaminants of emerging concern within the United States Great Lakes, the East Lansing Field Office obtained funding from Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to work with partners in University of Maryland, Carleton University, Canadian Wildlife Service  and Environment Canada to analyze eggs from sites within the United States. This project has provided a more comprehensive understanding of the degree and extent of contaminants of emerging concern in the Great Lakes resulting in the publication of two peer reviewed articles with East Lansing biologists Jeremy N. Moore and Dr. Lisa Williams acting as co-authors:


• Su, G. Letcher, R.J., Moore, J.N., Williams, L.L., Martin, P.A., de Solla, S.R., Bowerman, W.W. in press. "Spatial and Temporal Comparisons of Legacy and Emerging Flame Retardants in Herring Gull Eggs From Colonies Spanning the Laurentian Great Lakes of Canada and United States" Evnironmental Research
• Letcher, R.J., Su, G., Moore, J.N., Williams, L.L., Martin, P.A., de Solla, S. R., and Bowerman, W.W. 2015. “Perfluorinated Sulfonate and Carboxylate Compounds and Precursors in Herring Gull Eggs From Across the Laurentian Great Lakes of North America: Temporal and Recent Spatial Comparisons and Exposure Implications" Science for the Total Environment 538: 468-477.

This research, along with evaluation of legacy contaminants, will help evaluate Beneficial Use Impairment (BUI) delisting of “degradation of fish and wildlife populations” and "bird or animal deformities or reproduction problems” in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern.

Contact Info: Mandy Annis, 517-351-8318, mandy_annis@fws.gov
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