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Seabird-driven shifts in Arctic pond ecosystems

By Neal Michelutti, Bronwyn E. Keatley, Samantha Brimble, Jules M. Blais, Huijun Liu, Marianne S.V. Douglas, Mark L. Mallory, Robie W. Macdonald and John P. Smol

Abstract

Migratory animals such as seabirds, salmon and whales can transport large quantities of nutrients across ecosystem boundaries, greatly enriching recipient food webs. As many of these animals biomagnify contaminants, they can also focus pollutants at toxic levels. Seabirds arguably represent the most significant biovectors of nutrients and contaminants from the ocean to the land, given their sheer numbers and global distribution. However, long-term census data on seabirds are rare. Using palaeolimnological proxies, we show that a colony of Arctic seabirds has experienced climate-induced population increases in recent decades. We then document increasing concentrations of contaminants, including polychlorinated biphenyls and cadmium, in pond sediments that are linked to biotransport by seabirds. Our findings suggest that climate-related shifts in global seabird populations will have the unexpected consequence of restructuring coastal ecosystems

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: The Royal Society
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:2664339
Provided by: PubMed Central
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