The Influence of Age on Cadmium Concentrations in Seabirds

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Abstract

The effects of age on cadmium concentrations was investigated in Cory's shearwater, Calonectris diomedea, Lesser black-backed gull, Larus fuscus, and great skuas, Catharacta skua. There was no evidence for the continued accumulation of cadmium with increasing adult age. Adult shearwaters did have higher concentrations of cadmium compared to young fledglings, but there was no significant difference between cadmium concentrations in adult and sub-adult gulls. In addition, the sample of great skuas were of known age (3–22 yrs old) and showed no evidence of increasing cadmium concentrations with adult age in liver or kidney. However, it is possible that age accumulation of cadmium in great skuas was masked by individual dietary preferences overriding the effects of increasing age. It is often assumed that cadmium concentrations continue to accumulate with increasing adult age, but seabirds may have evolved some as yet unknown mechanism for excretion or more rapid turnover of cadmium than previously thought. The implications of this for the use of seabirds as biomonitors is discussed.

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