North-Central Section - 49th Annual Meeting (19-20 May 2015)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


MEYER, Fallon K., Geology Dept., Augustana College, 639 38th St., Rock Island, IL 61201, BURNHAM, Jennifer, Geography Dept., Augustana College, 639 38th St., Rock Island, IL 61201 and BURNHAM, Kurt, High Arctic Institute, 603 10th Avenue, Orion, IL 61273,

Mercury is a toxic pollutant whose presence is becoming more pronounced in the Arctic. It readily enters the food chain through aquatic pathways and biomagnifies with increasing trophic levels where it can reach dangerous levels in top predators such as seabirds. Seabirds have been identified as reliable monitors for environmental contaminants, but little is known about mercury concentrations in seabirds of northwestern Greenland. To better understand this, whole eggs were collected from three abundant avian species near Thule Air Base, Greenland (76° N, 68° W): black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla), thick-billed murre (Uria lomvia), and common eider (Somateria mollissima). Dried whole egg content was analyzed for total mercury (THg) and eggshell thickness was measured. Thick-billed murre eggs were found to have the highest total mercury concentrations and common eiders had the lowest. Preliminary results indicate that THg content is of the same magnitude, but higher, than found in previous studies of these species at lower latitudes. Initial analyses of results also suggest little correlation between eggshell thickness and THg content.