John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Projected mercury dietary exposure of three bird species nesting on a contaminated floodplain (South River, VA, USA)

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Courtesy of John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Dietary mercury exposure was modeled for Carolina wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus), Eastern song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) and Eastern screech owl (Otus asio) nesting on the contaminated South River floodplain (Virginia, USA). Parameterization of Monte Carlo models required formal expert elicitation to define bird body weight and feeding ecology characteristics because specific information was either unavailable in the published literature or too difficult to collect reliably by field survey. Mercury concentrations and weights for candidate food items were obtained directly by field survey. Simulations predicted the probability that an adult bird during breeding season would ingest specific amounts of mercury during daily foraging and the probability that the average mercury ingestion rate for the breeding season of an adult bird would exceed published rates reported to cause harm to other birds (>100 ng total Hg/g body weight per day). Despite the extensive floodplain contamination, the probabilities that these species' average ingestion rates exceeded the threshold value were all less than 0.01. Sensitivity analysis indicated that overall food ingestion rate was the most important factor determining projected mercury ingestion rates. Expert elicitation was useful in providing sufficiently reliable information for Monte Carlo simulation. Integr Environ Assess Manag © 2012 SETAC

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