Sub-lethal effects of mercury in Leach's Storm-petrels (Oceanodroma leucorhoa)
LE3 .A278 2020
Bachelor of Science
Mercury occurs in food webs both naturally and from human inputs. Methylmercury is toxic, and bioaccumulates and biomagnifies in food webs. Leach’s Storm-petrels (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) are an abundant seabird in the North Atlantic, and their diets and tissues can have high levels of mercury. I tested for sublethal associations among blood mercury, feather mercury, haemoglobin, and blood glucose in breeding storm-petrels. Results from a sample of 26 birds suggested blood mercury concentrations were not associated with levels of haemoglobin (r= -0.28, p = 0.27) or glucose (r 0.23, p = 0.24). Similarly, feather mercury was not a significant predictor of blood glucose (r = 0.13, p = 0.52) or haemoglobin (r = -0.03, p = 0.88). However, I detected higher mercury in storm-petrel feathers than in blood, consistent with predictions that birds shunt toxic heavy metals to inert feather tissues during moulting, reducing body burdens.
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