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Mercury, Cadmium, Lead, and Selenium in Three Waterbird Species Nesting in Galveston Bay, Texas, USA

Kirke A. King and Eugene Cromartie
Colonial Waterbirds
Vol. 9, No. 1 (1986), pp. 90-94
Published by: Waterbird Society
DOI: 10.2307/1521147
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1521147
Page Count: 5
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Mercury, Cadmium, Lead, and Selenium in Three Waterbird Species Nesting in Galveston Bay, Texas, USA
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Abstract

Heavy metal and selenium concentrations were determined in Olivaceous Cormorants (Phalacrocorax olivaceus), Laughing Gulls (Larus atricilla), and Black Skimmers (Rynchops niger) nesting in Galveston Bay, Texas, during 1980-81. Lead was detected at low levels in a small proportion of the liver samples. Mercury was present in all livers sampled, the highest levels being found in cormorants (7.8 ppm) and skimmers (16 ppm). Concentrations were considerably lower than those reported in birds from mercury-contaminated lakes in northern United States and Canada. Cadmium and selenium were detected in 93 and 95% of the kidneys. Cadmium was highest in gulls and skimmers with a maximum value of 16 ppm. Selenium levels were similar among species except for higher concentrations in gulls collected in 1981. Mean concentrations that year were 8.88 ppm, and 6 of 10 samples exceeded 11 ppm-a level associated with impaired reproduction in experimental birds. We found no differences between sexes for mercury, cadmium, or selenium. Differences among colonies in selenium concentrations occurred in gulls.

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