In 1999, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge (USFWS-AMNWR), the U.S. Geological Survey Biological Resources Division (USGS-BRD), and NIST implemented the Seabird Tissue Archival and Monitoring Project (STAMP) to monitor contaminants in Alaska's marine environments. In 2010, the 111th Congress directed NIST to expand this and other programs into the U.S. Pacific Islands.
STAMP was designed as an ongoing long-term effort to track geographic and temporal trends in environmental quality by collecting seabird eggs using standardized protocols, processing and banking the contents under conditions that ensure chemical stability during long-term (decadal) storage, and analyzing subsamples of the stored material to determine baseline levels of persistent bioaccumulative contaminants (e.g., chlorinated pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls [PCBs], brominated flame retardants [polybrominated diphenyl ethers—PBDEs], butyltin compounds, and mercury). The seabird egg collection is maintained in the NIST Biorepository at the Hollings Marine Laboratory with aliquots available to other researchers through an access policy.
Seabirds are an important group of upper trophic-level marine organisms with potential for accumulating lipophilic contaminants. Analyses of seabird tissues, particularly eggs, have played important roles in temporal and spatial environmental monitoring of persistent organic pollutants (POPs—e.g., PCBs, chlorinated pesticides) and mercury in Canada and Europe. Through real-time analysis, specimen banking, and future retrospective analysis, the project will provide a means to monitor both legacy environmental contaminants and chemicals of emerging environmental concern and provides the capability to verify analytical results by accessing banked samples and reanalyzing them using more sensitive and accurate methods in the future.
Since 1999, STAMP has collected and banked eggs from 11 species of seabirds (common and thick-billed murre, glaucous and glaucous-winged gull, black-legged kittiwake, black-footed and Laysan albatross, brown booby, Hawaiian petrel, sooty tern, and wedge-tailed shearwater)