Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 436-440

First online:

Age Differences in Metals in the Blood of Herring (Larus argentatus) and Franklin's (Larus pipixcan) Gulls

  • J.  BurgerAffiliated withNelson Biological Laboratory, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854-8082, USA
  • , M.  GochfeldAffiliated withEnvironmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, Piscataway, New Jersey 08855, USA

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Concentrations of heavy metals and selenium were measured in the blood of adult and young herring (Larus argentatus) and Franklin's (Larus pipixcan) gulls collected during the same breeding season in colonies in the New York Bight and in northwestern Minnesota, respectively. Concentrations were expected to be higher in young herring gulls collected in an urban, industrialized area, compared to young Franklin's gulls collected in a relatively pristine prairie marsh. Exposure is similar for the fledgling and adult gulls because by the time the blood of young gulls is drawn both adults and young have been eating foods from the surrounding region for two months; leading to the prediction that metal levels should be similar in adults and young. However, young Franklin's gulls had significantly higher levels of arsenic, cadmium, and manganese than adults; adults had significantly higher levels of mercury and selenium. Young herring gulls had significantly higher concentrations of arsenic and selenium, but lower levels of lead than adult herring gulls. Interspecific comparisons indicated that young Franklin's gulls had significantly higher levels of cadmium than young herring gulls, and adult Franklin's gulls had higher levels of selenium and chromium than adult herring gulls, but for all other comparisons herring gulls had higher levels of metals in their blood. Young herring gulls chicks had higher arsenic, manganese, and selenium levels and lower cadmium and lead levels in 1993 than in 1994. Overall, the levels in the two species were usually within an order of magnitude.