Global Monitoring of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Using Seabird Preen Gland Oil

Abstract

Situated at high positions on marine food webs, seabirds accumulate high concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and its metabolites (DDTs), and hexachlorocyclohexanes (HCHs). Our previous studies proposed the usefulness of seabirds preen gland oil as a nondestructive biomonitoring tool. The present study applied this approach to 154 adult birds of 24 species collected from 11 locations during 2005–2016 to demonstrate the utility of preen gland oil as a tool for global monitoring POPs, i.e., PCBs, DDTs, and HCHs. Concentrations of the POPs were higher in the Northern Hemisphere than in the Southern Hemisphere. In particular, ∑20PCBs and∑DDTs were highly concentrated in European shags (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) and Japanese cormorants (Phalacrocorax capillatus), explainable by a diet of benthic fishes. Higher concentrations of γ-HCH were detected in species from the polar regions, possibly reflecting the recent exposure and global distillation of ∑HCHs. We examined the relationship between age and POP concentrations in preen gland oil from 20 male European shags, aged 3–16 years old. Concentrations and compositions of POPs were not related to age. We also examined sex differences in the POP concentrations from 24 streaked shearwaters (Calonectris leucomelas) and did not detect a sex bias. These results underline the importance of the geographic concentration patterns and the dietary behavior as determinants species-specific POPs concentrations in preen gland oil.

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Acknowledgements

Permits to undertake research were given to Catherine Meathrel for birds at Great Dog Island, Alexander Kitaysky for birds at St George Island, Francis Daunt for birds on the Isle of May, Yutaka Watanuki for birds at Teuri Island, David Hyrenbach and Lindsay Young for birds at O’ahu Island, Phil Trathan for birds at Signy Island, Charles-André Bost for birds at Kerguelen Island, Katsufumi Sato for birds at Funakoshi Oshima Island, and Anthony Gaston for birds at Reef Island. The authors thank Anthony Gaston (Reef Island), Shinichi Watanabe, Hiromichi Mitamura and Takuji Noda (Signy Island and Syowa station), Hideji Tanaka (Kerguelen Island), Atsuo Ito (Great Dog Island), Tomoko Harada (Mukojima Island), Kozue Shiomi, Yusuke Goto, Yoshinari Yonehara, and Miho Sakao (Funakoshi Oshima Island) for sampling in the field. We thanks Scotish Natural Heritage for access to the Isle of May. This study was financially supported by a Grant-in-Aid (Project Nos. 16H01768, 20241001, 26550005).

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Correspondence to Rei Yamashita.

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Yamashita, R., Takada, H., Nakazawa, A. et al. Global Monitoring of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Using Seabird Preen Gland Oil. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 75, 545–556 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00244-018-0557-3

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