The consumption of ice-derived resources is associated with higher mercury contamination in an Arctic seabird - Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace Access content directly
Journal Articles Environmental Research Year : 2023

The consumption of ice-derived resources is associated with higher mercury contamination in an Arctic seabird

Abstract

Sea ice plays a fundamental role in Arctic marine environments, by driving primary productivity and sustaining ice-associated ecosystems. Simultaneously, sea ice influences the contamination of Arctic marine organisms, by modifying contaminant cycles or their bioavailability. Changes in sea ice conditions could therefore profoundly impact the functioning of Arctic marine food webs and their contamination. Top predators such as seabirds, which are subject to bioaccumulation and biomagnification of contaminants, are particularly exposed. In this context, the present study aims to investigate the influence of sea ice and of the use of ice-derived resources on the contamination of seabirds by mercury (Hg). To this end, eggs of thick-billed murres (Brünnich's guillemots, Uria lomvia; n = 60) were collected on Prince Leopold Island (Canadian High Arctic) during four years of varying ice conditions (2010–2013). Trophic tracers (i.e., Highly Branched Isoprenoids, HBIs – an indicator of the use of ice-derived resources; carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes – indicators of foraging habitats and trophic status), as well as total Hg concentrations were quantified. Results showed that feeding on ice-derived resources (as indicated by HBI concentrations) was positively correlated to sea ice cover, and both positively influenced Hg concentrations in murre eggs. However, when testing for the best predictor with model selection, sea ice concentration only drove Hg contamination in murres. This work provides new insights into the role of sea ice and ice-derived resources in the contamination by Hg of Arctic wildlife. Further research is now needed to better understand the relationship between sea ice and Hg contamination in Arctic biota and its underlying mechanisms, but also to identify Hg sources in rapidly changing environmental conditions in the Arctic.
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Dates and versions

hal-04223391 , version 1 (21-11-2023)

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Fanny Cusset, Julie Charrier, Guillaume Massé, Mark Mallory, Birgit Braune, et al.. The consumption of ice-derived resources is associated with higher mercury contamination in an Arctic seabird. Environmental Research, 2023, 238, pp.117066. ⟨10.1016/j.envres.2023.117066⟩. ⟨hal-04223391⟩
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