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Contaminants in indigenous harvests of apex predators: The Tasmanian Short-tailed Shearwater as a case study


Lavers, JL and Bond, AL, Contaminants in indigenous harvests of apex predators: The Tasmanian Short-tailed Shearwater as a case study, Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 95 pp. 78-82. ISSN 0147-6513 (2013) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 Elsevier Inc.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.ecoenv.2013.05.021


The Short-tailed Shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris), or muttonbird, migrates between hemispheres and is subject to an annual harvest at its breeding grounds in Tasmania. As top predators, these seabirds are exposed to high concentrations of contaminants. Concentrations of total polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and 22 elements were determined in Short-tailed Shearwater muscle to evaluate the safety of this meat product for human consumption. Among muscle samples, 57 per cent exceeded food safety standards for either lead (> 0.10 μg/g wet weight (ww)) or copper (> 0.01 μg/g ww/kg body mass). All muscle samples had total PCB concentrations below the limit of detection (< 0.01 μg/g ww). We also sampled feathers to investigate their utility in predicting internal contaminant burdens. Feather-muscle relationships among elements were generally poor, especially for toxicologically important elements (As, Cd, Hg, Pb), limiting the utility of feathers to monitor internal contaminant concentrations. There are no existing monitoring programs for contaminants in harvested wild birds in Australia, and we urge a greater integration between human and wildlife health studies, especially in remote areas where harvesting wildlife is more prevalent, culturally important, and forms a significant component of human diets.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:apex predator, heavy metals, seabird
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:85183
Year Published:2013
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2013-06-18
Last Modified:2017-10-31

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