Scientific publication in Polar Biology

While migratory seabirds dominate ecotoxicological studies within the Arctic, there is limited knowledge about exposure and potential effects from circulating legacy and emerging contaminants in species who reside in the high-Arctic all year round. Here, we focus on the case of the Mandt's Black guillemot (Cepphus grylle mandtii) breeding at Kongsfjorden, Svalbard and investigate exposure to legacy and emerging contaminants in relation to individual physiological status, i.e. body condition, oxidative stress and relative telomere length. Despite its benthic-inshore foraging strategy, the Black guillemot displayed overall similar contaminant concentrations in blood during incubation (e.g. PCB, PFAS, Pesticides, PBDE, and Hg) compared to an Arctic migratory seabird in which several contaminant-related stress responses have been observed. Black guillemots in poorer condition tended to display higher levels of contaminants, higher levels of reactive oxygen metabolites, lower plasmatic antioxidant capacity, and shorter telomere lengths; however the low sample size restrict any strong conclusions. Nevertheless, our data suggests that nonlinear relationships with a threshold may exist between accumulated contaminant concentrations and physiological status of the birds. These findings were used to build a hypothesis to be applied in future modelling for describing how chronic exposure to contaminants may be linked to telomere dynamics.




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