Trace metal levels in Waved Albatrosses


Waved Albatross, by ABUN artist Georgia Feild

E.S. Jiménez (Departamento de Ingeniería Química, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador) and colleagues have published open access in the journal Marine Ornithology on heavy metals in Galapagos seabirds, including the Critically Endangered Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Contamination by anthropogenic heavy metals can produce significant concentration-dependent damage to ecosystems.  Therefore, we sought to determine levels of heavy metals and their possible origins by analyzing the feathers of four endangered Galapagos species: Galapagos Penguin Spheniscus mendiculus, Flightless Cormorant Phalacrocorax harrisi, Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata, and American Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber from the Galapagos Archipelago.  Feathers were collected using non-invasive procedures, and calibration curves were used to measure heavy metals via electrochemical methods for mercury (Hg) and spectroscopic methods for lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd).  Pb and Cd were detected in flamingo feathers with no attributable anthropogenic or near-island origin.  Hg was not found in any of the analyzed species.  It is important to continue monitoring the presence of heavy metals in these endangered species, with a minimum frequency of five years, to facilitate their long-term conservation on the Galapagos Islands.”


Jiménez, E.S., Jiménez-Uzcátegui, G., Egas, D.A., Solis, N., Carrera-Játiva, P., Vinueza, R.L., Cotín, J., Nieto, A., García, C., Sevilla, C. & Rueda, D. 2020.  Trace metals (Hg, Pb, and Cd) in feathers of four Galapagos waterbird species.  Marine Ornithology 48: 85-89.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 22 April 2020

The Agreement on the
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