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SSF-Svalbard Science Forum

Early life exposure to mercury in kittiwakes breeding in Svalbard: A longitudinal study to reveal acquired levels and potential selection

Tildelt: kr 45 999

The main objective of the project is to reveal the levels of the contaminants (Mercury, Hg) and where seabirds take up contaminants (spatial origin) during the first years of life. And, by using the longitudinal data- with repeated sampling within individuals from fledging (just before leaving the nest) to recruitment (when they return to the colony), test for potential consequences on indivudual and population level. Specifically, we will i) reveal where kittiwakes spend their first years of life and their uptake of contaminants from fledging to recruitment and ii) we will test whether early life contaminant exposure affects individual survival and recruitment into the breeding population. This will provide new knowledge of the level and relative contribution of contaminants from the Arctic breeding grounds versus the previously unknown nursery grounds in the North Atlantic. Furthermore, this will reveal whether exposure of contaminants during the first years of life has fitness consequences and affects survival and recruitment into the population -which in turn are important for population dynamics.

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SSF-Svalbard Science Forum