Mercury concentrations in multiple tissues of Kittlitz's murrelets (Brachyramphus brevirostris)

Mar Pollut Bull. 2018 Apr;129(2):675-680. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.10.055. Epub 2017 Oct 31.


Mercury (Hg) is a non-essential, toxic metal that is distributed worldwide. Mercury biomagnifies in food webs and can threaten the health of top predators such as seabirds. The Kittlitz's murrelet (Brachyramphus brevirostris) is a seabird endemic to Alaska and the Russian Far East and is a species of conservation concern in the region. We determined Hg concentrations in eggshells, guano, blood, and feathers of Kittlitz's murrelets sampled from four locations in Alaska. Mercury concentrations in eggshells, guano, and blood were low compared to other seabird species. Mean Hg concentrations of breast feathers from Adak Island and Glacier Bay were significantly greater than those from Agattu Island or Icy Bay. Two Kittlitz's murrelets at Glacier Bay and one Kittlitz's murrelet at Adak Island had Hg concentrations above those associated with impaired reproduction in other bird species, and may merit further investigation as a potential threat to individuals and populations.

Keywords: Blood; Eggshell; Excrement; Feather; Guano; Seabird.

MeSH terms

  • Alaska
  • Animals
  • Charadriiformes / blood*
  • Egg Shell / chemistry
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Feathers / chemistry
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Food Chain
  • Mercury / analysis*
  • Mercury / blood
  • Russia
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / blood


  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Mercury