Caribou are among the most important subsistence animals for people living in the North, and the Bathurst caribou herd is particularly critical to the area's socioeconomic security.
Wolves, like people, are a top "consumer" of caribou.
"It is an important responsibility, both for health and for food security issues that Northerner's face, that we monitor traditional food sources," Morris said.
By testing vegetation, the researchers found large enough concentrations of CUPs to confirm that they were entering the food chain.
In caribou eating that vegetation, CUPs were also present, but they did not increase (biomagnify) significantly in caribou compared to their diet. The concentrations were even lower in wolves, suggesting sufficient metabolism of CUPs in both animals to prevent significant biomagnification.
"The lack of biomagnification also means that we are unlikely to see sudden unexpected increases in concentrations of the CUPs in terrestrial top predators," he said.
"But this needs to be confirmed in other food chains in the Arctic before general trends can be established that are applicable to larger data sets."
Morris said these CUPs represent only a small percentage of contaminants in Arctic regions or in the environment globally.
"However, their unique set of properties does help us more clearly see how different contaminants behave in the environment and in food chains compared to legacy contaminants."
Morris has widened his research to include marine food chains and is also studying the effects of a range of organic flame retardants on the same terrestrial food chain.
The animal samples used in the research were all provided by subsistence hunters and trappers. "There would be no study possible, at all, without their co-operation," Morris said.
"I cannot stress enough how important local
|Contact: Adam Morris|
University of Guelph