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 Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

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: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>