Difference between revisions of "The relation between pollutants and disease in guillemots"
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Revision as of 12:55, 3 July 2009
Ecotoxicological and pathological studies of common guillemots Uria aalge beached on the Belgian coasts during six successive wintering periods (1989-90 to 1994-95)
Context of the study
Within the frame of the third European North Sea Conference a program has been founded to monitor the health and causes of death of seabirds and marine mammals. In Belgium the common guillemot is by far the most abundant of all overwintering species (for both marine birds and marine mammals). For this reason it became the focus of this study. Although there is a lot of information available on pollution of sea birds by heavy metals and organochlorines, little is known about how this pollution relates to diseases or deaths.
Content of the study
During six successive winters 727 common guillemots were collected from Belgian beaches. Some were found death on the shoreline, others where still alive but died during rehabilitation. Besides being monitored for general condition (weight, fat content,...) possible oil coverage on their feathers, half of these birds were sampled for heavy metals and PCB content.
Half of the collected birds showed internal or external traces of oil. Even small traces of external oil are presumed to seriously impair the overwintering birds isolation, and therefore their changes for survival.75% of the studied birds were exhausted: they showed a strongly reduced pectoral muscle and a low fat content. These birds contained higher concentrations of copper, zinc, mercury and PCB's