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Abstract Title: Seabirds Mercury Input Into the Soil of a Breeding Colony of Little Auks (Alle alle) in Magdalenefjord, Svalbard
Presenter Name: Juliana Souza-Kasprzyk
Company/Institution: Adam Mickiewicz University
Session: Mercury in Polar Ecosystems
Co-Authors: Juliana Souza-Kasprzyk,Katarzyna Zmudczy?ska-Skarbek,Adrian Zwolicki,Peter Convey,Przemyslaw Niedzielski

Abstract Information :

Seabirds can act as vectors for the input of chemical elements to the environment. In particular, they eliminate trace elements in their reproductive colonies through faeces, contributing to the transfer of those elements from the marine to the terrestrial environment. This input leads to the formation of soils enriched in nutrients and organic matter. In this way, little auks (Alle alle) play an important role in the supply of nutrients and trace elements to the Arctic tundra. Our study investigated the influence of little auks on mercury (Hg) levels in soils around a breeding colony in Magdalenefjord, Spitsbergen, Svalbard. Soil samples were collected from areas with and without bird influence along eight line plots of approximately 300 m length. Samples were extracted using HNO3 and quantified using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry PlasmaQuant? MS Q. Soils around the breeding colony had significantly (n = 8; t = 4.639, df = 14; p = 0.0004) higher Hg concentrations (n = 8; 0.80 ñ 0.13 ng.g?1) than did control soils (n = 8; 0.58 ñ 0.05 ng.g?1). This difference between the two areas supports our hypothesis that the little auk may transfer marine-sourced Hg to the soils of its breeding colonies and, hence, provide a local source of Hg in the Arctic environment. Our data are consistent with previous studies proposing the seabirds transfer of organic matter and toxic chemical elements form the marine to the terrestrial environment surrounding their breeding colonies in the polar regions. This work was supported by grant no. POWR.03.02.00-00-I020/17 co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund under the Operational Program Knowledge Education Development.

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