Bioaccumulation of lead and cadmium in the Royal Tern and Sandwich Tern

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Abstract

Lead and cadmium concentrations were measured in eggs and tissues of downy young, prefledgling, and adult Royal and Sandwich Terns collected from Galveston Bay, Texas. These species do not differ significantly in the amount of heavy metals they accumulate; however, they differed from other species of the same trophic level from Galveston Bay in degree and pattern of temporal accumulations of these metals. Lead levels were lower in terns, but cadmium levels in adult terns were higher than those of other species. The pre-fledglings of other species at this trophic level have lead and cadmium concentrations which are similar to those found in adults. In contrast, the concentrations of the metals in adult terns are markedly higher than those found in prefledgling terns. This suggests that accumulation of metals continues as the birds age.