Hydrobiologia

, Volume 567, Issue 1, pp 263–274

Assessment of mercury exposure and potential effects on common loons (Gavia immer) in Québec

  • L. Champoux
  • D. C. Masse
  • D. Evers
  • O. P. Lane
  • M. Plante
  • S. T. A. Timmermans
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10750-006-0066-7

Cite this article as:
Champoux, L., Masse, D.C., Evers, D. et al. Hydrobiologia (2006) 567: 263. doi:10.1007/s10750-006-0066-7

Abstract

Results from recent studies report increases in mercury in the environment and increased bioaccumulation in aquatic food webs. The Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) and the Canadian National Park Service initiated this study to determine whether common loons (Gavia immer) are exposed to sufficiently high mercury concentrations in prey fish to impair their reproduction and survival. Monitoring of loon reproduction, measurement of lake physicochemistry, and fish sampling for mercury analysis were conducted in various regions in Québec, Canada, during summers from 1997 to 2002. Reproductive success was assessed and loons were captured at night and banded. Blood and feathers were collected to measure mercury. Mean blood and feather Hg concentrations in males (2.6 μg/g w.w and 17.6 μg/g d.w.) and females (1.8 μg/g w.w and 8.9 μg/g d.w.) were within the normal range of samples from north-eastern North America. However, one third (33%) of the loons sampled had mercury levels in blood or feathers exceeding the high risk levels for health and reproduction. Loons from western Québec showed significantly lower Hg levels than those from eastern Québec, both in blood and feathers. This study will help to determine the potential effects of mercury on the Québec and North-American loon population and provide information to assist in decisions on pollution abatement policies.

Keywords

common loonmercuryacid precipitationreproductive successprey fish

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Champoux
    • 1
  • D. C. Masse
    • 2
  • D. Evers
    • 3
  • O. P. Lane
    • 3
  • M. Plante
    • 2
  • S. T. A. Timmermans
    • 4
  1. 1.Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment CanadaSainte-FoyCanada
  2. 2.La Mauricie National ParkParks CanadaCanada
  3. 3.Biodiversity Research InstituteGorhamUSA
  4. 4.Bird Studies CanadaPort RowanCanada