Comparison of arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese, mercury and selenium in feathers in bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), and comparison with common eider (Somateria mollissima), glaucous-winged gull (Larus glaucescens), pigeon guillemot (Cepphus columba), and tufted puffin (Fratercula cirrhata) from the Aleutian Chain of Alaska



There is an abundance of field data for levels of metals from a range of places, but relatively few from the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea. In this paper we examine the levels of arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese, mercury and selenium in feathers from common eiders (Somateria mollissima), glaucous-winged gulls (Larus glaucescens), pigeon guillemots (Cepphus columba), tufted puffins (Fratercula cirrhata) and bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) from the Aleutian Chain of Alaska. Our primary objective was to test the hypothesis that there are no trophic levels relationships for arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese, mercury and selenium among these five species of birds breeding in the marine environment of the Aleutians. There were significant interspecific differences in all metal levels. As predicted bald eagles had the highest levels of arsenic, chromium, lead, and manganese, but puffins had the highest levels of selenium, and pigeon guillemot had higher levels of mercury than eagles (although the differences were not significant). Common eiders, at the lowest trophic level had the lowest levels of some metals (chromium, mercury and selenium). However, eiders had higher levels than all other species (except eagles) for arsenic, cadmium, lead, and manganese. Levels of lead were higher in breast than in wing feathers of bald eagles. Except for lead, there were no significant differences in metal levels in feathers of bald eagles nesting on Adak and Amchitka Island; lead was higher on Adak than Amchitka. Eagle chicks tended to have lower levels of manganese than older eagles.


Metals Birds Feathers Aleutians Mercury Lead Cadmium Trophic level 

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Life SciencesRutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA
  2. 2.Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (CRESP)PiscatawayUSA
  3. 3.Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI)PiscatawayUSA
  4. 4.Environmental and Occupational MedicineUMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical SchoolPiscatawayUSA

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