Dietary mercury and declining Leach’s storm-petrel numbers: toxicological and spatial implications

Leach’s storm-petrels are tiny, iconic seabirds found from the Bay of Fundy through Labrador in eastern Canada, and forage hundreds of kilometres offshore. Numbers of birds at some colonies have declined by >30% over the past two decades; the reason for these declines remain very unclear. Among the possible factors thought to be negatively influencing storm-petrels is mercury (Hg), a neurotoxic element that some studies have shown is high in this species. This project is a collaborative examination of tissue sampling from 5 colonies across storm-petrels range in Canada, to determine Hg levels, how that relates to diet in each area, and assess whether this contaminant may be influencing local populations. It will deliver on some of Canada’ needs for reporting under national and international legislation related to birds and contamination.

Intern: 
Ingrid Pollet
Faculty Supervisor: 
Mark Mallory
Province: 
New Brunswick
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