Concentrations of trace elements in eggs and blood of spectacled and common eiders on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska, USA

Authors

  • James B. Grand,

    Corresponding author
    1. U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Alaska Biological Science Center, 1011 E Tudor Road, Anchorage, Alaska 99503
    • U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Alaska Biological Science Center, 1011 E Tudor Road, Anchorage, Alaska 99503
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  • J. Christian Franson,

    1. U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, National Wildlife Health Center, 6006 Schroeder Road, Madison, Wisconsin 53711
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  • Paul L. Flint,

    1. U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Alaska Biological Science Center, 1011 E Tudor Road, Anchorage, Alaska 99503
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  • Margaret R. Petersen

    1. U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Alaska Biological Science Center, 1011 E Tudor Road, Anchorage, Alaska 99503
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Abstract

We examined the relations among nesting success, egg viability, and blood and egg concentrations of As, Cd, Pb, Hg, and Se in a threatened population of spectacled eiders (Somateria fischeri) and a sympatric population of common eiders (S. mollissima) on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska, USA, during 1995 and 1996. During the early breeding season, males and females had mean Se concentrations in their blood of 19.2 μg/g and 12.8 μg/g wet weight, respectively. Blood Se concentrations of females were correlated with egg concentrations. During brood rearing, blood Se levels were higher in adult females than in ducklings. Blood concentrations of Pb in spectacled eider females were higher than in common eider females captured at hatching, but blood concentrations of Se were similar. Trace element concentrations were not related to nest success or egg viability. We submit that nest success and egg viability of spectacled eiders are not related to concentrations of the trace elements we measured. Because blood Se concentrations declined rapidly through the breeding season and were not related to nest success or egg viability, we suggest that spectacled eiders are exposed to high concentrations of Se during winter that pose little threat to this population.

Ancillary