Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Industrial contaminants spread by seabirds in High Arctic

15.07.2005


Mercury and DDT are 60X higher as a result of bird droppings, say researchers



Seabirds are the surprising culprits in delivering pollutants – through their guano – to seemingly pristine northern ecosystems, a new Canadian study shows.

The most common form of wildlife in the Arctic, seabirds are responsible for transporting most of the human-made contaminants to some coastal ecosystems, the researchers found. "The effect is to elevate concentrations of pollutants such as mercury and DDT to as much as 60 times that of areas not influenced by seabird populations," says team member John Smol, a biology professor at Queen’s University and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change.


The multidisciplinary study, led by Dr. Jules Blais, professor of environmental toxicology at the University of Ottawa, will be published July 15 in the journal Science.

Other team members are Marianne Douglas from the University of Toronto, D.McMahon and Linda Kimpe from the University of Ottawa, Bronwyn Keatley from Queen’s University, and Mark Mallory from the Canadian Wildlife Service (Iqaluit).

Calling it a "boomerang" effect, Dr Blais says: "These contaminants had been washed into the ocean, where we generally assumed they were no longer affecting terrestrial ecosystems. Our study shows that sea birds, which feed in the ocean but then come back to land, are returning not only with food for their young but with contaminants as well. The contaminants accumulate in their bodies and are released on land."

The study took place at Cape Vera on northern Devon Island in the Canadian High Arctic, far from industrial and agricultural sources of pollutants. However, chemicals are emitted into the air and oceans from the populated parts of the globe, and are transported by air and ocean currents toward cold areas like the Arctic.

"Some chemicals will build up in the food webs that comprise northern traditional diets," says Ms Kimpe. "As a result, some of our northern Canadian populations are among the most mercury and PCB-exposed people on the globe."

Dr. Mallory has led a team of researchers studying the Cape Vera colony of about 10,000 breeding pairs of birds called northern fulmars. The fulmars nest on the high cliffs, which are ringed by a series of freshwater ponds at their base. Although environmental monitoring in High Arctic locations is often very difficult due to logistical difficulties, lake sediments archive important information on environmental changes.

"Lakes slowly accumulate sediments, and incorporated in these sediments is an archive of past environmental changes, much like pages in a book," says Dr. Douglas, the Canada Research Chair in Global Change. The team analyzed contaminants from the sediments of the shallow ponds that ringed the base of the cliffs, as monitors of past contaminant inputs.

Noting that Canada has the longest coastline in the world, and seabirds are typically the dominant wildlife found in these coastal ecosystems, Dr. Blais says: "Most of Canada’s coastline is at our northern fringe, and northern aboriginal communities rely on these ecosystems as a source of nutrition, economic development, traditional customs, and culture.

"We now have evidence that seabirds can concentrate industrial contaminants in coastal areas to levels that can be affecting those ecosystems."

Nancy Dorrance | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.queensu.ca

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon
09.12.2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society

nachricht Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>