Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 539–549

Mercury levels in Bonaparte's gulls (Larus Philadelphia) during autumn molt in the Quoddy region, New Brunswick, Canada


  • Birgit M. Braune
    • Department of ZoologyUniversity of Guelph
  • David E. Gaskin
    • Department of ZoologyUniversity of Guelph

DOI: 10.1007/BF01055810

Cite this article as:
Braune, B.M. & Gaskin, D.E. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. (1987) 16: 539. doi:10.1007/BF01055810


No significant between sex differences were detected in Hg concentrations in primary feathers, pectoral muscle, brain, liver, and kidney tissues of fall migrating juvenile and second-year Bonaparte's gulls (Larus Philadelphia) collected in the Quoddy region. Adults showed sexual differences only in the first 5 primary feathers, and in muscle, kidney and brain. Differences in Hg concentrations among age groups were reflected in the primary feathers and body tissues, but as the molt progressed, Hg concentrations decreased as they converged toward a minimum asymptotic Hg level for each tissue. This suggests that the body burden of Hg was reduced through its redistribution from the body tissues into the growing feathers. Mercury concentrations in premolt head feathers (pre-egg-laying) did not vary significantly between adult females and males, whereas Hg concentrations in postmolt feathers (post-egg-laying) were significantly lower in females, suggesting that egg-laying was also a route for Hg elimination. After the completion of the molt, the new feathers contained most of the body burden of Hg (93.0% in adults).

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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1987