Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, 229:390 | Cite as

Influence of Pygoscelis Penguin Colonies on Cu and Pb Concentrations in Soils on the Ardley Peninsula, Maritime Antarctica

  • Alessandra Perfetti-Bolaño
  • Lucila Moreno
  • Roberto Urrutia
  • Alberto Araneda
  • Ricardo Barra


Penguins can bioaccumulate metals, a portion of which can be deposited in the environment through organic remains such as excrement, carcasses, and eggshells. In order to determine Cu and Pb concentrations and their relationship to soil, organic matter and grain size were determined in 27 samples collected in zones without penguins, penguin transit zones, and Adelie (Pygoscelis adeliae), Chinstrap (P. antarctica), and Gentoo penguin (P. papua) colonies on the Ardley Peninsula, Maritime Antarctica. An atomic absorption spectrophotometry analysis was carried out, organic matter was determined by loss on ignition, and grain size was measured with a laser diffraction particle size analyzer. The principal component analysis shows a relationship between the variables Cu, Pb, and grain size and areas with penguin presence. Cu concentrations in soils varied among areas (χ2, 15.707; p = 0.0004), with higher concentrations in transit zones and penguin colonies (142.63 and 140.79 mg/kg, respectively) than in zones without penguins (83.33 mg/kg). Pb concentrations in soils also varied among areas (χ2, 6.5029; p = 0.0387), and were higher in transit zones (5.92 mg/kg) than in the penguin colonies (4.45 mg/kg). Grain size differed significantly among areas (χ2, 13.506; p = 0.0012), with higher values in transit zones (avg. 37.38 μm) than in penguin colonies (avg. 26.93 μm) and zones without penguins (avg. 20.72 μm). Organic matter did not differ significantly among the studied zones (χ2, 2.0882; p = 0.3520). There is a positive correlation between Cu-Pb (Rho, 0.5532; p = 0.0028), Cu-grain size (Rho, 0.4756; p = 0.0130) and Pb-grain size (Rho, 0.4879; p = 0.0098). The presence of penguins increases Cu concentrations in Antarctic soils due to its bioaccumulation and elimination through excrement; however, the presence of penguins has a minor influence on Pb concentration in soil, probably because this metal is stored efficiently in bones, feathers, and eggshells.


Antarctica Penguins Pollution Soil 



The authors would like to thank Instituto Antártico Chileno (INACH) and Correos de Chile for their support in carrying out this project (PR_01-12) during ECA 49. R. Barra and R. Urrutia are grateful for the support of CRHIAM (CONICYT/FONDAP 15130015).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Aquatic Systems, Faculty of Environmental Sciences & EULA-Chile CenterUniversidad de ConcepciónConcepciónChile
  2. 2.Departament of Zoology, Faculty of Natural and Oceanographic SciencesUniversidad de ConcepciónConcepciónChile

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