It is essential to understand contaminant exposure and to compare levels of contaminants in organisms at different ages to determine if there is bioaccumulation, and to compare levels encountered in different geographical areas. In this paper, we report levels of mercury, lead, cadmium, cobalt, arsenic and selenium in the blood of semipalmated sandpipers (Calidris pusilla) wintering in Suriname as a function of age, and compare them to blood levels in northbound migrants at a stopover in Delaware Bay, New Jersey. We found (1) young birds had higher levels of cadmium, cobalt, and lead than adults (after second year birds); (2) there were no age-related differences for arsenic, mercury and selenium; (3) only four of the possible 16 inter-metal correlations were significant, at the 0.05 level; (4) the highest correlation was between cadmium and lead (Kendall tau = 0.37); and (5) the adult sandpipers had significantly higher levels of cadmium, mercury and selenium in Suriname than in New Jersey, while the New Jersey birds had significantly higher levels of arsenic. Suriname samples were obtained in April, after both age classes had spent the winter in Suriname, which suggests that sandpipers are accumulating higher levels of trace elements in Suriname than in Delaware Bay. The levels of selenium may be within a range of concern for adverse effects, but little is known about adverse effect levels of trace elements in the blood of wild birds.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
- Chemical Health and Safety
- Molar ratios
- New Jersey
- Semipalmated sandpiper
- Temporal patterns