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Metals and metalloids in little penguin (Eudyptula minor) prey, blood and faeces


Finger, A and Lavers, JL and Dann, P and Kowalczyk, ND and Scarpaci, C and Nugegoda, D and Orbell, JD, Metals and metalloids in little penguin (Eudyptula minor) prey, blood and faeces, Environmental Pollution, 223 pp. 567-574. ISSN 0269-7491 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© 2017 Elsevier

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2017.01.059


Piscivorous species like the Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor) are particularly at risk of being negatively impacted by pollution due to their heightened exposure through aquatic food chains. Therefore, determining the concentration of heavy metals in the fish prey of seabirds is an essential component of assessing such risk. In this study, we report on arsenic, cadmium, mercury, lead and selenium concentrations in three fish species, which are known to comprise a substantial part of the diet of Little Penguins at the urban colony of St Kilda, Melbourne, Australia. Metal concentrations in the fish sampled were generally within the expected limits, however, arsenic and mercury were higher than reported elsewhere. Anchovy (Engraulis australis) and sandy sprat (Hyperlophus vittatus) contained higher Hg concentrations than pilchard (Sardinops sagax), while sandy sprat and pilchard contained more selenium. We present these findings together with metal concentrations in Little Penguin blood and faeces, sampled within weeks of the fish collection. Mercury concentrations were highest in the blood, while faeces and fish prey species contained similar concentrations of arsenic and lead, suggesting faeces as a primary route of detoxification for these elements. We also investigated paired blood - faecal samples and found a correlation for selenium only. Preliminary data from stable isotope ratios in penguin blood indicate that changes in penguin blood mercury concentrations cannot be explained by trophic changes in their diet alone, suggesting a variation of bioavailable Hg within this semi-enclosed bay.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Trace metal pollution, seabird ecology, indicator species, coastal pollution, blood, guano, fish trace metal, Port Phillip Bay
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Lavers, JL (Dr Jennifer Lavers)
ID Code:114928
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:12
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2017-03-02
Last Modified:2018-04-20

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