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    Seabird eggs are considered a favourable matrix for monitoring marine pollutants and are widely used as higher trophic level indicators. Persistent organic pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and other organochlorine compounds (OCs) as well as metals have been shown to have deleterious impacts on seabirds. The Northern Gannet Morus bassanus is an avian sentinel; the largest breeding seabird in Ireland and an obligate piscivore. Gannet eggs were collected from two island colonies off the east coast of Ireland in locations with divergent history of industrialisation. Contaminant levels were measured and differences in concentrations between colonies compared. Stable isotope ratios of carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) were measured in each egg to understand the influence of diet and trophic position on contaminant levels detected. Significantly higher levels of Σ14PCBs, Σ7PBDEs and total mercury were detected in Gannet eggs from Lambay Island near Dublin (Ireland's industrialised capital city) compared to Great Saltee Island. No differences were observed in levels of other OCs (HCB, ΣHCH, ΣCHL, ΣDDT) between the two colonies. Though Gannets travel significant distances when foraging for food, tracking studies have demonstrated that birds from proximal breeding colonies maintain exclusive feeding areas. Stable isotope ratio analysis in this study demonstrated that Gannets at both locations occupy similar dietary niches, indicating that dietary differences may not be the driver of differing contaminant levels between colonies. Levels of persistent pollutants in the Gannet eggs fall below most existing thresholds for adverse effects and are within internationally reported values. Recent population growth and range expansion of Gannets in Ireland suggest that persistent pollutants are not having an immediate impact on the Gannet population. This study will inform potential monitoring programmes that can help Ireland achieve good environmental status under the European Union's Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


    Andrew Power, Philip White, Brendan McHugh, Simon Berrow, Moira Schlingermann, Marissa Tannian, Stephen Newton, Evin McGovern, Sinéad Murphy, Denis Crowley, Linda O'Hea, Brian Boyle, Ian O'Connor. Persistent pollutants in Northern Gannet Morus bassanus eggs in Ireland: Levels and colony differences. Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987). 2021 Jan 01;268(Pt A):115723

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    PMID: 33070066

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