Baselines of Exposure and Sensitivity to Hydrocarbons in Marine Bird Indicator Species on the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas

Principal Investigator: Tuula Hollmen (Alaska Sealife Center, UAF) 
Collaborators: Raphaela Stimmelmayr, Robert Suydam, Ann Riddle (Alaska Sealife Center, UAF)
Funding: NSB, BOEM
Project Summary: We propose to measure P450 activities in a suite of key avian species of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas to provide a baseline for hydrocarbon exposure in species of conservation concern and subsistence importance. This information will form a basis for future monitoring of exposure and recovery of populations from potential exposure. We will also evaluate sensitivity to hydrocarbons in the selected marine bird species of conservation and subsistence importance to provide baseline information for assessment of species’ vulnerability to oil spills. This information will support long term planning, risk analyses, and environmental impact assessments. In addition to providing baselines for hydrocarbon exposure and species’ vulnerability, marine birds can
serve as useful bioindicators of the status of the environment. Benthic foraging birds sample filter feeding invertebrates of the coastal habitats, providing a proxy for accumulation o hydrocarbons in the benthic fauna. Piscivorous birds may target key forage fish species of the local food web. Furthermore, because several of the species we propose to study are used in subsistence harvest, understanding contaminants exposure in these species has importance to human health.

The overall goals of the project are:
1. Assess baselines of hydrocarbon exposure in selected marine bird indicator species of Chukchi and Beaufort Seas
2. Assess comparative sensitivity to hydrocarbon exposure in selected marine bird indicator species of Chukchi and Beaufort Seas

Riddle, Ann, et al. 2016. Assessing hydrocarbon sensitivity and establishing current CYP1A baselines in Arctic marine Birds and Waterfowl. Poster presented at the 2016 Alaska Marine Science Symposium, Anchorage, Alaska, January 2016.

Other Bird Health Studies:

Avian Influenza Monitoring

Harmful Algal Bloom Toxins in Alaska Seabirds (USGS)

Perkins, M., et al. 2016. Mercury exposure and risk in breeding and staging Alaskan shorebirds. American Ornithology 118:571-582. DOI:10.1650/CONDOR-16-36.1

Banner photo credit: Yosty Storms