Navigation Links
Coastal birds carry toxic ocean metals inland

A collaborative research team led by Queen's University biologists has found that potent metals like mercury and lead, ingested by Arctic seabirds feeding in the ocean, end up in the sediment of polar ponds.

"Birds feeding on different diets will funnel different 'cocktails' of metal contaminants from the ocean back to terrestrial ecosystems, which can then affect other living organisms," says lead author Neal Michelutti, a research scientist at Queen's Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL).

The study will be published on-line the week of May 24 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.

The team collected sediment cores from two ponds on a small island in the Canadian Arctic that is home to the nests of two kinds of seabirds: Arctic terns, which feed primarily on fish, and common eider ducks which feed mainly on mollusks. The researchers analyzed the pond sediment for metals and other indicators of the birds' activity.

They found significant differences between the samples that aligned with the birds' diets. There were higher concentrations of metals such as mercury and cadmium in the sites inhabited by terns, while the nearby eider site recorded higher amounts of lead, manganese, and aluminum. The patterns of metals in the sediment cores matched those recorded in the different bird species' tissues.

Queen's biology professor John Smol says the findings can be applied to other locations. "The High Arctic is an excellent 'natural laboratory' to undertake such studies, due to the lack of local industries," notes Dr. Smol, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change, and winner of the 2004 NSERC Herzberg Gold Medal as Canada's top scientist. "However, the presence of seabirds on every continent suggests similar processes are operating along coastlines worldwide.

"Our concern is that these areas of elevated metals and other contaminants occur exactly where biological activity is greatest," he adds.

"The seabirds are obviously not directly to blame for the elevated metal concentrations in the ponds," says team member Jules Blais, a biology professor from the University of Ottawa. "They are simply carrying out their natural behaviours and lifecycles, but have become unwitting vectors of pollutants in an increasingly industrial age."

Contact: Nancy Dorrance
Queen's University

Related biology news :

1. Low oxygen in coastal waters impairs fish reproduction
2. Acid rain has a disproportionate impact on coastal waters
3. Springer will publish Journal of Coastal Conservation
4. Abel to receive posthumous Ocean and Coastal Leadership award
5. Resilience concepts poised to aid management of coastal marine ecosystems
6. Generalist bacteria discovered in coastal waters may be more flexible than known before
7. Bad news for coastal ocean: less fish out, means more nitrogen in
8. River plants may play major role in health of ocean coastal waters
9. Scientists show that streams are critical to preservation of oceanic coastal zones
10. Small streams mitigate human influence on coastal ecosystems
11. NOAA reports coastal waters show decline in contaminants
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Coastal birds carry toxic ocean metals inland
(Date:11/9/2015)... , Nov. 09, 2015 ... the addition of the "Global Law ... their offering. --> ) ... "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... Research and Markets ( ) has ...
(Date:11/2/2015)... 2015  SRI International has been awarded a contract ... services to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) PREVENT Cancer ... expertise, modern testing and support facilities, and analytical instrumentation ... toxicology studies to evaluate potential cancer prevention drugs. ... Cancer Drug Development Program is an NCI-supported pipeline to ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... RESTON, Va. , Oct. 29, 2015 ... announced today that it has released a new version ... Daon customers in North America ... gains. IdentityX v4.0 also includes a FIDO UAF ... customers are already preparing to activate FIDO features. These ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 Orexigen® Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... a fireside chat discussion at the Piper Jaffray 27th ... . The discussion is scheduled for Wednesday, December 2, ... .  A replay will be available for 14 days ... , Julie NormartVP, Corporate Communications and Business Development , ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Francisco, CA (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 ... ... microbial genomics company uBiome, were featured on AngelList early in their initial angel ... launching an AngelList syndicate for individuals looking to make early stage investments in ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 24, 2015 , ... The United States Golf Association (USGA) today announced Dr. ... Award. Presented annually since 1961, the USGA Green Section Award recognizes an individual’s distinguished ... , Clarke, of Iselin, N.J., is an extension specialist of turfgrass pathology in ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... Conference in New York on Wednesday, December ... Helen Torley , president and CEO, will provide a corporate overview. ... New York at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT . ... investor relations, will provide a corporate overview. --> th ...
Breaking Biology Technology: