Gull-derived trace elements trigger small-scale contamination in a remote Mediterranean nature reserve

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Abstract

The role of a yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis) small colony in conveying trace elements (As, Cd, Cr,Cu, Ni, Pb, THg, V, Zn) was assessed in a Mediterranean nature reserve (Marinello ponds) at various spatialand temporal scales. Trace element concentrations in guano were high and seasonally variable. In contrast,contamination in the ponds was not influenced by season but showed strong spatial variabilityamong ponds, according to the different guano input. Biogenic enrichment factor B confirmed the roleof gulls in the release of trace elements through guano subsidies. In addition, comparing trace elementpond concentrations to the US NOAA’s SQGs, As, Cu and Ni showed contamination levels associated withpossible negative biological effects. Thus, this study reflects the need to take seabirds into account as keyfactors influencing ecological processes and contamination levels even in remote areas, especially aroundthe Mediterranean, where these birds are abundant but overlooked.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-243
Number of pages7
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume74
Publication statusPublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution

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