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Mercury exposure disrupts the lipid metabolism of migratory birds

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Migratory birds have been called the super-athletes of the animal kingdom because of the remarkable endurance they display during hours-long, non-stop flights that can span thousands of kilometers. Their endurance is made possible by several unique physiological adaptations that allow birds to fuel long bouts of high-intensity exercise with fat rather than less energy-dense and less storable carbohydrates on which mammals rely. Now, a new study published in Scientific Reports is raising concern that a globally ubiquitous pollutant, methylmercury (MeHg), may be hindering the rates at which birds can burn fat during migratory flights and subsequently replenish fat stores during stopovers.

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