Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and inorganic elements in predatory bird livers and eggs 2007 to 2009: a Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme (PBMS) Report

Walker, L.A.; Beith, S.J.; Lawlor, A.J.; Moeckel, C.; Pereira, M.G.; Potter, E.D.; Shore, R.F.. 2011 Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and inorganic elements in predatory bird livers and eggs 2007 to 2009: a Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme (PBMS) Report. NERC/Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. (CEH Project Number: C04288)

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The Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme (PBMS; is the umbrella project that encompasses the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology’s National Capability contaminant monitoring and surveillance work on avian predators. By monitoring sentinel vertebrate species, the PBMS aims to detect and quantify current and emerging chemical threats to the environment and in particular to vertebrate wildlife. Sparrowhawk livers were analysed for a range of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and heavy metals. Sparrowhawks are studied because they have a wide distribution across the Britain and can be used as a sentinel species for the terrestrial environment. Mean PCB and mercury liver concentrations were below those thought to have an adverse effect on individual birds. Pollutants, such as mercury and PCBs, can affect development and hatchability. Therefore, the PBMS also monitors the levels of contaminants in the eggs of a range of species including those of conservation concern, such as golden eagle and the re-introduced white-tailed sea eagle. Other species that are monitored are the northern gannet, which is used as a monitor of the marine environment, and merlin that hunts in upland habitats. The residues measured in the eggs of golden eagle and gannets collected between 2007 and 2009 were below those thought to have an adverse effect, but some residues in individual merlin eggs were above concentrations suggested to be indicative of no effect concentrations for birds generally. Few white-tailed see eagle eggs are received for analysis by the PBMS but many of the eggs that have been analysed, including one of the eggs analysed for this report, have DDE, PCB and/or mercury concentrations above levels associated with adverse effects on bird embryos and hatching success. In terms of long-term trends, there has been a decline in congener sum PCB contamination in the eggs of most of the species that have been monitored, except for coastal nesting golden eagles. In contrast however, there has been no significant decline over time in PCB concentrations in sparrowhawk livers and concentrations of ‘Paris 10’ congener sum and PCB-TEQ concentrations have also largely remained unchanged in both livers and eggs since monitoring began in 1996. Evidence for changes over time in mercury concentrations in predatory birds or their eggs is inconsistent across the species monitored. Where a decline has been detected, it has occurred before approximately 1990 and remained largely unchanged since then.

Item Type: Publication - Report
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biogeochemistry > BGC Topic 1 - Monitoring and Interpretation of Biogeochemical and Climate Changes > BGC - 1.1 - Monitor concentrations, fluxes, physico-chemical forms of current and emerging pollutants ...
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Shore
Funders/Sponsors: NERC/Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Natural England, Environment Agency, Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use
Additional Keywords: PBMS
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 19 Sep 2011 12:41 +0 (UTC)

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