Trace Element Concentrations in Relation to the Trophic Behaviour of Endangered Ivory Gulls (Pagophila eburnea) During Their Stay at a Breeding Site in Svalbard

Abstract : The ivory gull is a high-Arctic species considered endangered in most parts of its breeding range. Ivory gulls must cope with both the reduction of sea ice cover triggered by climate change and increasing contaminant loads due to changes in global contaminant pathways. The objective of this study was to assess the concentration of 14 essential and non-essential trace elements at four colonies of ivory gulls breeding on Barentsøya, Svalbard, and the relationship between contaminant exposure and the diet of individuals. Contaminants and stable isotopes (δ15N, δ13C) were determined in blood (red blood cells and whole blood), and feathers of ivory gulls collected over several years. The most quantitatively abundant non-essential trace element found in the ivory gull was mercury (Hg). Selenium (Se) was present in substantial surplus compared with Hg, which would imply relative protection against Hg toxic effects but raises concern about Se potential toxicity. Moreover, other elements were detected, such as silver, arsenic, cadmium, and lead, which would warrant monitoring because of the potential additive/synergetic effects of these compounds. This study demonstrated individual differences in trophic behaviour that triggered discrepancies in Hg concentrations, highlighting the potential biomagnifying ability of this metal in the ivory gull’s food web. Results highlighted the mixing of birds coming from different geographical areas on Barentsøya.
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Magali Lucia, Hallvard Strøm, Paco Bustamante, Geir Gabrielsen. Trace Element Concentrations in Relation to the Trophic Behaviour of Endangered Ivory Gulls (Pagophila eburnea) During Their Stay at a Breeding Site in Svalbard. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, Springer Verlag, 2016, 71, pp.518 - 529. ⟨10.1007/s00244-016-0320-6⟩. ⟨hal-01423281⟩

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