Contaminant concentrations may vary among sequentially-laid eggs in multi-egg clutches, and this variation has implications for the interpretation of contaminant concentrations in monitoring programs. The thick-billed murre (Uria lomvia) is a key species for monitoring contaminants in the Canadian Arctic and lays only a single egg per year. Therefore, the potential issue of intra-clutch variation in contaminant concentrations is avoided. However, if the egg is removed or lost early in the incubation stage, the adult female murre will relay. In this study, we examined contaminant concentrations and patterns in first-laid and replacement eggs of thick-billed murres breeding in northern Hudson Bay in order to determine whether or not these eggs could be sampled interchangeably. Concentrations of the major legacy organochlorines (e.g. PCBs, DDT, chlordanes) were generally higher, and total mercury concentrations lower, in the replacement eggs compared with the first-laid eggs. The organochlorine profile was comprised primarily of ΣDDT and Σ70PCB, and Σ70PCB was comprised primarily of hexa-hepta PCBs in both first-laid and replacement eggs. As both concentrations and organochlorine patterns showed differences between first-laid and replacement eggs, we recommend that randomly selected first-laid eggs of thick-billed murres be consistently sampled for contaminant monitoring in the Canadian Arctic.

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Keywords Eggs, Mercury, Organochlorines, Replacement eggs, Seabirds
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Journal Science of the Total Environment
Braune, B.M, Jacobs, S.R. (Shoshanah R.), & Gaston, A.J. (Anthony J.). (2018). Variation in organochlorine and mercury levels in first and replacement eggs of a single-egg clutch breeder, the thick-billed murre, at a breeding colony in the Canadian Arctic. Science of the Total Environment, 610-611, 462–468. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.08.076