Baseline data on trace element concentrations are lacking for many species of Arctic marine birds. We measured essential and non-essential element concentrations in Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea) liver tissue and brain tissue (mercury only) from Canada's High Arctic, and recorded the presence/absence of gastrointestinal parasites during four different phases of the breeding season. Arctic terns from northern Canada had similar trace element concentrations to other seabird species feeding at the same trophic level in the same region. Concentrations of bismuth, selenium, lead and mercury in Arctic terns were high compared to published threshold values for birds. Selenium and mercury concentrations were also higher in Arctic terns from northern Canada than bird species sampled in other Arctic areas. Selenium, mercury and arsenic concentrations varied across the time periods examined, suggesting potential regional differences in the exposure of biota to these elements. For unknown reasons, selenium concentrations were significantly higher in birds with gastrointestinal parasites as compared to those without parasites, while bismuth concentrations were higher in Arctic terns not infected with gastrointestinal parasites.

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Keywords Arctic, Breeding stage, Mercury, Parasites, Selenium, Terns
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Journal Science of the Total Environment
Provencher, J.F., Braune, B.M, Gilchrist, H.G, Forbes, M, & Mallory, M.L. (2014). Trace element concentrations and gastrointestinal parasites of Arctic terns breeding in the Canadian High Arctic. Science of the Total Environment, 476-477, 308–316. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.01.016