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PCB and organochlorine pesticides in northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) from a High Arctic colony: Chemical exposure, fate, and transfer to predators

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Abstract

Organochlorine contaminant concentrations, associated fugacities, and stable isotopes of nitrogen (δ15N) are reported for liver, whole body homogenate, and opportunistically collected samples of prey (amphipods), stomach oils, digestive tract contents, and guano for northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) collected at Cape Vera, Devon Island in the Canadian High Arctic. Liver concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (ΣPCB) and ΣDDT were on average 49.9 ± 35.4 ng g−1 and 29.9 ± 25.2 ng g−1 wet weight, respectively. Whole body homogenate concentrations of ΣPCB and ΣDDT were 637 ± 293 ng g−1 and 365 ± 212 ng g−1 wet weight, respectively. A mass and energy balance showed that whole body contaminant concentrations, which are seldom reported for Arctic seabirds, are critical in determining contaminant exposure and associated risk to predators such as the Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus). Biomagnification in the fulmars is evident, because concentrations and fugacities of contaminants were generally one to three orders of magnitude higher than those of likely prey items. The fate of diet-derived contaminants along the digestive tract is discussed, in particular with respect to stomach oils, which are used to feed chicks and for defensive purposes. The benefits of considering both concentrations and fugacities are demonstrated and provide information on the absorption and distribution of chemicals within the fulmars and contaminant transfer to offspring and predators. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2011;30:2055–2064. © 2011 SETAC

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