Shorebirds breeding in Alaska are being exposed to mercury at levels that could put their populations at risk, according to new research from The Condor: Ornithological Applications.
Thanks to atmospheric circulation and other factors, the mercury that we deposit into the environment tends to accumulate in the Arctic. Mercury exposure can reduce birds' reproductive success and sometimes even be lethal. Shorebirds may be particularly vulnerable because they forage in aquatic environments where mercury is converted into methylmercury, its most dangerous form.
… More work is needed to determine how much mercury various shorebird species can handle before they suffer adverse effects. "These results have encouraged me to expand my research on mercury exposure in Arctic shorebirds," says [Marie] Perkins. "I am currently pursuing my PhD at McGill University, where I am working in collaboration with BRI and the Arctic Shorebird Demographics Network to closely examine mercury exposure in multiple shorebird species breeding across the North American Arctic."
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