Mercury, arsenic, cadmium, chromium lead, and selenium in feathers of pigeon guillemots (Cepphus columba) from Prince William Sound and the Aleutian Islands of Alaska

Joanna Burger, Michael Gochfeld, Kelsey Sullivan, David Irons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations

Abstract

Arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese, mercury and selenium were analyzed in the feathers of pigeon guillemots (Cepphus columba) from breeding colonies in Prince William Sound and in the Aleutian Islands (Amchitka, Kiska) to test the null hypothesis that there were no differences in metal levels as a function of location, gender, or whether the birds were from oiled or unoiled areas in Prince William Sound. Birds from locations with oil from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in the environment had higher levels of cadmium and lead than those from unoiled places in Prince William Sound, but otherwise there were no differences in metal levels in feathers. The feathers of pigeon guillemots from Prince William Sound had significantly higher levels of cadmium and manganese, but significantly lower levels of mercury than those from Amchitka or Kiska in the Aleutians. Amchitka had the lowest levels of chromium, and Kiska had the highest levels of selenium. There were few gender-related differences, although females had higher levels of mercury and selenium in their feathers than did males. The levels of most metals are below the known effects levels, except for mercury and selenium, which are high enough to potentially pose a risk to pigeon guillemots and to their predators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-184
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume387
Issue number1-3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 15 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

Keywords

  • Aleutians
  • As
  • Cd
  • Cr
  • Feather levels
  • Hg
  • Mn
  • Pb
  • Pigeon guillemot
  • Prince William Sound
  • Se
  • Seabirds
  • Valdez

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