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Seabirds Bring Sea Contaminants On to Land Ecosystems: Study

Cara J

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Migratory seabirds carry the marine pollution they ingest at sea back to their nesting sites on land, according to a new study. “It is yet another example of unintended effects of ocean pollution on species that you might not expect,” said Mark Mallory, a Canada research chair and associate biology professor at Acadia University in Nova Scotia and the lead author of a study published recently in the journal Water, Air & Soil Pollution. Mallory has conducted previous studies in the Arctic where it’s easier to see the effects of the chemicals that seabirds bring when they nest inland. The birds generally spread out and feed in a large area of ocean, returning to relatively small colonies where the birds regurgitate food, defecate and sometimes die. All of this contains nitrogen, phosphorous and other chemicals that create “lush patches of vegetation” in the otherwise barren landscape. “It’s really obvious there that the areas are so starved for nutrients that the areas just light up like beacons with plants,” Mallory said. “It’s like fertilizing your garden.” Further south in Canada, the ecosystems aren’t as starved for fertilizer and nutrients. But Mallory suspected changes might be occurring in the vegetation and microfauna [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/seabirds-bring-sea-contaminants-on-to-land-ecosystems-study/

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