In birds, metal contaminants in feathers are influenced by prey concentrations and environmental quality. In Black-tailed Gull chicks, Cd, Pb and Cu concentrations were strongly correlated between feathers and stomach contents. Between feathers and livers, Pb, Zn and Fe concentrations were significantly correlated. Cd concentrations were within the range of other seabirds and within the background level for bird feathers (<2 μg/g dw). At the lighthouse, eight chicks exceeded the background for Pb level in feathers (>4 μg/g dw). Elevated Pb concentrations might be attributed to ingestion of paint-based chips and natural (soil and rocks) sources. There is evidence that the analyzed birds suffered from acute toxicity, including high levels of pecking from conspecifics and increased mortality from elevated Pb levels. It seems likely that these birds might experience negative health effects from this increased Pb exposure. As a result, Black-tailed Gull chick feathers are a very useful monitoring tool for assessing Cd, Pb and Cu contamination. Essential elements such as Fe, Zn, Mn and Cu were all within the acceptable range of normal concentrations for seabird species including gulls and may be maintained by normal homeostatic mechanisms.
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This work was supported by a grant from the Kyung Hee University in 2013. We are grateful to Thomas W. Custer (USGS) for critical reading and comments on the manuscript.
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Kim, J., Oh, JM. Relationships of Metals Between Feathers and Diets of Black-Tailed Gull (Larus crassirostris) Chicks. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 92, 265–269 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00128-014-1200-2
- Black-tailed Gull chicks
- Stomach contents
- Threshold level