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Persistent organic pollutants in blood samples of Southern Giant Petrels (Macronectes giganteus) from the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica



Fernanda I. Colabuono, Stacy Schuur, Kevin Huncik, Satie Taniguchi, Petry V. Maria, John Kucklick, Rosalinda C. Montone


Seabirds play an important role as top consumers in the food web and can be used as biomonitors of exposure to pollutants. Contamination studies on seabirds involving non-destructive sampling methods are of considerable importance, allowing better evaluation of the concentrations of pollutants and toxic effects over time. In the present study, organohalogen contaminants concentrations were analyzed in blood samples from Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus) adults and chicks collected in the austral summer of 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 on Elephant and Livingston Islands, South Shetland, Antarctica. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), pentachlorobenzene (PeCB), mirex, DDTs and chlordanes were detected in all birds, whereas polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were not detected in any blood samples. No differences were found in organochlorine concentrations between sampling events and adults generally exhibited significantly higher concentrations than chicks. PCB, HCB, mirex and DDT concentrations were similar in males and females from Elephant Island. Females on Livingston Island exhibited higher HCB concentrations than males, but no sex differences were found regarding other organochlorines. The similarity in the concentrations of most organochlorines between sexes in birds with very marked sexual segregation in feeding habits during the breeding season may indicate that significant amounts of contaminants are acquired during migration to lower latitudes, when the diets of males and females are similar. Birds sampled on Livingston Island exhibited significantly lower concentrations of PCBs, HCB, DDTs, mirex and chlordanes in comparison to those on Elephant Island, which could be the result of distinct foraging patterns between the two colonies. Organochlorine levels were similar between years in birds captured in two consecutive breeding seasons. Blood samples from Southern Giant Petrels adults and chicks proved to be useful for the c
Environmental Pollution


Procellariiformes, polychlorinated biphenyls, organochlorine pesticides, seabirds, Elephant Island, Livingston Island


Colabuono, F. , Schuur, S. , Huncik, K. , Taniguchi, S. , Maria, P. , Kucklick, J. and Montone, R. (2016), Persistent organic pollutants in blood samples of Southern Giant Petrels (Macronectes giganteus) from the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica, Environmental Pollution, [online],, (Accessed May 18, 2024)


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Created May 25, 2016, Updated October 12, 2021