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Environ Pollut. 2002;117(1):133-45.

Contaminant residues in seabird eggs from the Canadian Arctic. II. Spatial trends and evidence from stable isotopes for intercolony differences.

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  • 1Canadian Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Research Centre, Hull, Quebec, Canada.


Eggs of glaucous gulls (Larus hyperboreus), black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla), thick-billed murres (Uria lomvia) and black guillemots (Cepphus grylle) were collected from several sites throughout the Canadian Arctic. Samples were analyzed for organochlorines as well as mercury and selenium. Glaucous gulls breeding at sites in the High Arctic showed higher levels of organochlorine contamination than those in the western Low Arctic. This was likely due to dietary differences among colonies as suggested by stable isotope data, although different overwintering areas may also play a role. Levels of sigmaPCB, sigmaDDT, sigmaCHLOR, sigmaCBz and dieldrin were significantly lower in thick-billed murres from Prince Leopold Island in the High Arctic compared with colonies in the eastcrn Low Arctic. This difference was likely due to the combined effects of different atmospheric deposition patterns in the High and Low Arctic and different overwintering areas since murres from Prince Leopold Island may winter farther north than murres from the other colonies sampled. Eggs from colonies at higher latitudes generally contained higher concentrations of mercury. The trophic and dietary differences/similarities suggested by stable-nitrogen and carbon isotope data in this study were useful in explaining the spatial patterns of contaminant concentrations observed among colonies of seabirds such as the glaucous gull and the black-legged kittiwake where variation in latitudinal atmospheric deposition patterns and different overwintering grounds did not appear to be confounding factors.

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