Comparison of total mercury levels in relation to diet and molt for nine species of marine birds

  • Birgit M. Braune


Total mercury (Hg) concentrations were analyzed for tissues of nine species of marine birds from the Quoddy region, New Brunswick, Canada, including cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus), eiders (Somateria mollissima), guillemots (Cepphus grylle), phalaropes (Phalaropus lobatus), gulls (Larus argentatus, L. Philadelphia), terns (Sterna hirundo, S. paradisaea) and kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla). There was a progressive decrease in Hg concentration from the innermost to the outermost primary feather in Bonaparte's gulls, herring gulls, black-legged kittiwakes and Arctic terns. Primaries of common terns and black guillemots showed no significant trend. Cormorants, guillemots and eiders, which feed on benthic organisms, and common terns, which feed predominantly on fish, had the highest tissue Hg levels, whereas birds such as kittiwakes and phalaropes, which consume mainly pelagic invertebrates, had the lowest Hg levels.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Birgit M. Braune
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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