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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 491:277-293 (2013)  -  DOI:

Influence of wintering area on persistent organic pollutants in a breeding migratory seabird

Eliza H. K. Leat1,*, Sophie Bourgeon2, Ellen Magnusdottir3, Geir W. Gabrielsen4, W. James Grecian1, Sveinn A. Hanssen2, Kristin Olafsdottir5, Aevar Petersen6, Richard A. Phillips7, Hallvard Strøm4, Sandra Ellis8, Aaron T. Fisk8, Jan Ove Bustnes2, Robert W. Furness1, Katrine Borgå

1College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, Graham Kerr Building, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
2Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, FRAM Centre, 9296 Tromsø, Norway
3Institute of Biology, Askja, University of Iceland, Sturlugata 7, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
4Norwegian Polar Institute, FRAM Centre, 9296 Tromsø, Norway
5Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, University of Iceland, 107 Reykjavik, Iceland
6Icelandic Institute of Natural History, 212 Gardabaer, Iceland
7British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK
8Great Lakes Institute of Environmental Research, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, N9B 3P4, Canada
9Norwegian Institute for Water Research, Gaustadalleén 21, 0349 Oslo, Norway

ABSTRACT: As apex marine predators, seabirds are often sampled to monitor bioaccumulative persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the marine environment. Despite the restrictions on use and production of many POPs, concern remains about levels of these chemicals present in marine biota due to their potential toxicity. Many seabird species are migratory, and although overwintering area has been hypothesized to affect the accumulation of POPs, few have studied the contribution of exposure in the wintering area on the POP burdens of seabirds. This study investigated the impact of wintering area on concentrations and patterns of organochlorines (OCs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in plasma of breeding great skuas Stercorarius skua from 3 colonies; Bjørnøya (Svalbard), southeast Iceland and Shetland (Scotland). To do so, stable isotope values of primary feathers grown during the winter were used in conjunction with geolocator data (n = 16) to assign untracked individuals (n = 122), to 3 wintering areas (America, Europe and Africa). Birds wintering in Africa had lower plasma concentrations of many OCs and PBDE 47 compared to the other areas. Nevertheless, the influence of wintering area differed between contaminants and between breeding colonies. We conclude that although wintering area had a significant effect on both concentrations and patterns of POPs, its influence was small in comparison to differences in exposure to these pollutants at breeding colonies, but that accumulation of POPs during the winter may be important for specific populations of seabirds.

KEY WORDS: Great skua · Stercorarius skua · Pesticides · PCBs · PBDEs · Feather stable isotopes · Geolocation

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Cite this article as: Leat EHK, Bourgeon S, Magnusdottir E, Gabrielsen GW and others (2013) Influence of wintering area on persistent organic pollutants in a breeding migratory seabird. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 491:277-293.

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