Contamination and plastic debris residues in Antarctic petrel species


Professorin Dr. Petra Quillfeldt
Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
Fachbereich Biologie und Chemie
Institut für Tierökologie und Spezielle Zoologie
Arbeitsgruppe Tierökologie
Heinrich-Buff-Ring 26-32 IFZ
35392 Gießen

Project Description

Global industrial production and consumer behavior lead to increasing contamination of the oceans. Therefore, there is a growing need to understand the prevalence and risk associated with exposure of wildlife to sources of contamination such as plastics and mercury, especially in remote areas such as the Southern Ocean. To compare the exposure to plastics among petrels sampled at different Antarctic and subantarctic sites and times of the season, the presence of three common plasticizers will be determined in the waxy preen oil using a recently established GC-MS protocol. In addition, mercury will be measured from the same birds using feather samples which integrate the exposure to mercury between two successive moults and blood samples which are representative of the present exposure. We will focus on small petrels (storm-petrels, prions and blue petrels) and will also analyse samples from storm-petrels breeding in the North-east Pacific to enable a comparison to an area known to have high plastic exposure. We will test for differences in the level of contamination associated with breeding and inter-breeding distribution and trophic level (determined using compound-specific stable isotope analyses). We will further compare samples collected during the early and late Antarctic breeding season (e.g. November versus March) to quantify carry-over effects of the exposure in the inter-breeding season.

DFG Programme: Infrastructure Priority Programmes

International Connection: Antarctica, Chile, France

Term since 2017