A Nondestructive Method to Identify POP Contamination Sources in Omnivorous Seabirds

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are present in almost all environments due to their high bioaccumulation potential. Especially species that adapted to human activities, like gulls, might be exposed to harmful concentrations of these chemicals. The nature and degree of the exposure to POPs greatly vary between individual gulls, due to their diverse foraging behaviour and specialisation in certain foraging tactics. Therefore, in order clarify the effect of POP-contaminated areas on gull populations, it is important to identify the sources of POP contamination in individual gulls. Conventional sampling methods applied when studying POP contamination are destructive and ethically undesired. The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential of using feathers as a non-destructive method to determine sources of POP contamination in individual gulls. The reviewed data showed that high concentrations of PCBs and PBDEs in feathers together with a large proportion of less bioaccumulative congeners may indicate that the contamination originates from landfills. Low PCB and PBDE concentrations in feathers and a large proportion of more bioaccumulative congeners could indicate that the contamination originates from marine prey. The authors propose a non-destructive approach to identify the source of contamination in individual gulls based on individual contamination levels and PCB and PBDE congener profiles in feathers. Despite some uncertainties that might be reduced by future research, we conclude that especially when integrated with other methods like GPS tracking and the analysis of stable isotopic signatures, identifying the source of POP contamination based on congener profiles in feathers could become a powerful non-destructive method.

Authors: Michielsen RJ, Shamoun-Baranes J, Parsons JR, Kraak MHS. ; Full Source: Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. 2018 Mar 13. doi: 10.1007/398_2018_12. [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Epub ahead of print][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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