John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Precipitation influences on uptake of a global pollutant by a coastal avian species

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Climatic variation, including precipitation amounts and timing, have been linked to abundance and breeding success of many avian species. Less studied but also of significance is the consequence of climatic variability on the exposure and uptake of nutrients and contaminants by wildlife. We examined mercury (Hg) concentrations in nestling wood stork feathers in a coastal setting over a 16‐year period to understand the influence of rainfall amounts on Hg transfer by parental provisioning relative to habitat use, assuming differential bioavailability of Hg within freshwater and saltwater habitat types. Coastal Hg uptake by stork nestlings was linked to freshwater habitat use, as indicated by stable carbon isotope (δ13C) analyses. Cumulative rainfall amounts exceeding 220 cm in the 23 months preceding the breeding seasons resulted in greater use of freshwater wetlands as foraging habitat and greater Hg accumulation by nestling storks. Environ Toxicol Chem © 2014 SETAC

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