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Environ Res. 2002 Sep;90(1):47-60.

Immune function, stress response, and body condition in arctic-breeding common eiders in relation to cadmium, mercury, and selenium concentrations.

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Prairie & Northern Wildlife Research Centre, Environment Canada P&NR, 115 Perimeter Rd. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7N 0X4, Canada.


We examined relationships between trace metal concentrations in tissues of common eider ducks (cadmium, mercury, and selenium) and selected biomarkers of health (stress response, immune function, and body condition). This study was conducted at an eider nesting colony in the Canadian arctic in 1998 and 1999. Capture-induced stress, measured as the rise in corticosterone concentrations following capture, was positively related (P=0.03) to renal cadmium concentration in 1998 when incubating eiders were sampled, but not in 1999 when prenesting eiders were sampled. Stress response was inversely related (P=0.02) to selenium concentrations in 1999. Following capture and blood sampling in 1999, eiders were placed in a flight pen on-site for eight days in order to examine immune function. Cell-mediated immunity, measured as the skin-swelling response to an intradermal injection of phytohemagglutinin-P, (PHA-P), was positively related (P=0.003) to hepatic selenium. The heterophil:lymphocyte ratio was inversely related (P=0.08) to hepatic selenium. In 1998, selenium was positively related to body mass (P=0.01), abdominal fat mass (P=0.07), kidney mass (P=0.03), and liver mass (P=0.07). In 1999, hepatic mercury was negatively related to abdominal fat mass (P=0.01), spleen mass (P=0.07) and body mass at capture (P=0.09) in prenesting eiders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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