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Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 1–7 | Cite as

Heavy metal concentrations in feathers of common loons (Gavia immer) in the Northeastern United States and age differences in mercury levels

  • Joanna Burger
  • Mark Pokras
  • Rebecca Chafel
  • Michael Gochfeld
Article

Abstract

Feathers serve as a useful, non-destructive approach for biomonitoring some aspects of environmental quality. Birds can eliminate over 90% of their body burden of mercury by sequestration in growing feathers, and they molt their feathers at least annually. Thus mercury concentrations should not vary in avian feathers as a function of age. We tested the null hypothesis that there are no age differences in the concentrations of mercury, lead, cadmium, selenium, copper, chromium and manganese in the feathers of immature and adult common loons Gavia immer from the Northeastern United States where the species is declining. Adults had significantly higher mean levels of mercury (20245 ppb) than immature loons (9677 ppb), but there were no age-related differences for other elements. Even with the small number of immatures, females had significantly higher levels of mercury than males, although the gender difference was not significant for adults.

Keywords

Heavy Metal Mercury Chromium United States Cadmium 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joanna Burger
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mark Pokras
    • 3
  • Rebecca Chafel
    • 3
  • Michael Gochfeld
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesRutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA
  2. 2.Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences InstitutePiscatawayUSA
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Studies, School of Veterinary MedicineTufts UniversityBostonUSA
  4. 4.Environmental and Community MedicineUMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical SchoolPiscatawayUSA

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