Porphyria in herring gulls: A biochemical response to chemical contamination of great lakes food chains

Authors

  • Glen A. Fox,

    Corresponding author
    1. Canadian Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Research Centre, Environment Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0H3
    • Canadian Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Research Centre, Environment Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0H3
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Ross J. Norstrom,

    1. Canadian Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Research Centre, Environment Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0H3
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Donald C. Wigfield,

    1. Ottawa-Carleton Chemistry Institute, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5B6, Canada
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Sean W. Kennedy

    1. Ottawa-Carleton Chemistry Institute, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5B6, Canada
    Current affiliation:
    1. Canadian Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Research Centre, Environment Canada, Ottawa, Canada K1A 0H3
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Concentrations of highly carboxylated porphyrins (HCPs) in the livers of adult herring gulls (Larus argentatus) from colonies throughout the Great Lakes were found to be markedly elevated in comparison with those in gulls from coastal areas and in seven other species of birds consuming diets uncontaminated with polyhalogenated aromatic hydrocarbons (PHAHs). The highes levels were found in gulls from lower Green Bay (Lake Michigan), Saginaw Bay (Lake Huron) ant Lake Ontario. We suggest that the high levels of HCPs reflect PHAH-induced derangement of heme biosynthesis. Determination of HCPs offers promise as a specific and sensitive biological marker of PHAH-induced toxicity and as a measure of the toxicological significance of the chemical burden in gulls, terminal members of Great Lakes food chains.

Ancillary