Trace Element Concentrations in Feathers of Seven Petrels

Susan M. Philpot, Jennifer L. Lavers, Dayanthi Nugegoda, Morgan E. Gilmour, Ian Hutton, Alexander L. Bond

Environmental Science and Pollution Research, January 2019

Gadfly petrels (Pterodroma spp.) are one of the most threatened and poorly studied seabird groups, and as marine predators, are exposed to biomagnified and bioaccumulated chemical pollutants from their prey. We quantified trace element concentrations in breast feathers of seven petrel species that breed in the southern hemisphere to quantify current concentrations.

Selenium (Se) concentrations were significantly lower in chicks than adults; this was not observed for zinc (Zn) or lead (Pb). Overall, the species examined here exhibited similar concentrations of Se, with Pb and Zn concentrations more variable among species. The mean Se concentration in adult birds exceeded those thought to be potentially deleterious, and three species had concentrations that were above the assumed threshold for Pb toxicity. Further investigation of potentially toxic trace elements in gadfly petrels is warranted.