Mercury (Hg) is a toxic metal that has been of increasing concern in the Canadian Arctic. We measured total Hg in eggs of three marine birds (Arctic terns Sterna paradisaea, common eiders Somateria mollissima borealis, long-tailed ducks Clangula hyemalis) that breed in the Canadian Arctic, to compare Hg laying order effects from the same clutch and to examine Hg among species. Early-laid eggs of all three species had 24-48% higher Hg concentrations than late laid eggs. Arctic terns had approximately twice the concentration of Hg in their eggs as the two duck species, and Hg in eider eggs from the High Arctic was higher than Hg in eggs from the Low Arctic. Higher Hg in tern eggs was consistent with this species occupying a higher trophic position in marine food webs, as indicated by stable nitrogen isotope (δ15N) values. The egg-laying sequence may need to be considered for Hg biomonitoring studies where small samples sizes are planned, and early eggs may be preferable for such studies since early eggs may be more representative of potential maximum levels of Hg in the marine food webs. Crown Copyright

Additional Metadata
Keywords Arctic, Eggs, Laying order, Marine birds, Mercury, Stable nitrogen isotopes
Persistent URL
Journal Science of the Total Environment
Akearok, J.A. (Jason A.), Hebert, C.E, Braune, B.M, & Mallory, M.L. (Mark L.). (2010). Inter- and intraclutch variation in egg mercury levels in marine bird species from the Canadian Arctic. Science of the Total Environment, 408(4), 836–840. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.11.039