Wading bird guano contributes to Hg accumulation in tree island soils in the Florida Everglades

Environ Pollut. 2014 Jan;184:313-9. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2013.08.037. Epub 2013 Oct 1.


Tree islands are habitat for wading birds and a characteristic landscape feature in the Everglades. A total of 93 surface soil and 3 soil core samples were collected from 7 degraded/ghost and 34 live tree islands. The mean Hg concentration in surface soils of ghost tree islands was low and similar to marsh soil. For live tree islands, Hg concentrations in the surface head region were considerably greater than those in mid and tail region, and marsh soils. Hg concentrations in bird guano (286 μg kg(-1)) were significantly higher than those in mammal droppings (105 μg kg(-1)) and plant leaves (53 μg kg(-1)). In addition, Hg concentrations and δ(15)N values displayed positive correlation in soils influenced by guano. During 1998-2010, estimated annual Hg deposition by guano was 148 μg m(-2) yr(-1) and ~8 times the atmospheric deposition.

Keywords: Everglades; Guano; Total Hg; Tree islands; Wading birds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Birds / physiology*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Feces / chemistry*
  • Florida
  • Mercury / analysis*
  • Soil / chemistry*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Soil
  • Mercury