Ecological Conditions and Health of Arctic Wetlands Modified by Nutrient and Contaminant Inputs from Colonial Birds

  • Mark MalloryEmail author
Reference work entry


The Arctic supports relatively few but large colonies of seabirds. These birds feed in the ocean, often on contaminated food webs, then concentrate and transport nutrients and contaminants through digestion. Back at the colony, the birds release these chemicals, which can then move into terrestrial food webs, accumulating in organisms that would not normally be exposed to these concentrations. Wetlands around Arctic seabird colonies may be oases of life due to nutrient deposition from seabirds, but they also become point sources of certain contaminants.


Seabird Contaminant Arctic Biomagnification Biotransport 


  1. AMAP. Arctic pollution 2011. Norway: Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme; 2011.Google Scholar
  2. Blais JM, Kimpe LE, McMahon D, Keatley BE, Mallory ML, Douglas MSV, Smol JP. Arctic seabirds transport marine-derived contaminants. Science. 2005;309:445.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Blais JM, Macdonald R, Mackay D, Webster E, Harvey C, Smol JP. Biologically mediated transport of contaminants to aquatic systems. Environ Sci Technol. 2007;41:1075–84.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Brimble SM, Foster KL, Mallory ML, MacDonald RW, Smol JP, Blais JM. High Arctic ponds receiving biotransported nutrients from a nearby seabird colony are also subject to potentially toxic loadings of arsenic, cadmium and zinc. Environ Toxicol Chem. 2009;28:2426–33.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Choy ES, Kimpe LE, Mallory ML, Smol JP, Blais JM. Biotransport of marine pollutants to a terrestrial food web: spatial patterns of persistent organic pollutants adjacent to a seabird colony in Arctic Canada. Environ Pollut. 2010;158:3431–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Côté G, Pienitz R, Velle G, Wang X. Impact of geese on the limnology of lakes and ponds from Bylot Island (Nunavut, Canada). Int Rev Hydrobiol. 2010;95:105–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ellis JC. Marine birds on land: a review of plant biomass, species richness, and community composition in seabird colonies. Plant Ecol. 2005;181:227–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Evenset A, Carroll J, Christensen GN, Kallenborn R, Gregor D, Gabrielsen GW. Seabird guano is an efficient conveyer of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) to Arctic lake ecosystems. Environ Sci Technol. 2007;41:1173–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Falconer MC, Nol E, Mallory ML. Breeding biology and provisioning of nestling snow buntings (Plectrophenax nivalis) in the Canadian High Arctic. Polar Biol. 2008;31:483–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Keatley BK, Blais J, Douglas MSV, Gregory-Eaves I, Mallory M, Michelutti N, Smol JP. Historical seabird population dynamics and their effects on Arctic pond ecosystems: a multi-proxy paleolimnological study from Cape Vera, Devon Island, Canada. Fund Appl Limnol. 2011;179:51–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Krummel EM, Macdonald RW, Kimpe LE, Gregory-Eaves I, Demers MJ, Smol JP, Finney B, Blais JM. Aquatic ecology: delivery of pollutants by spawning salmon. Nature. 2003;425:255–6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Mallory ML, Fontaine AJ. Key marine habitat sites for migratory birds in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Can Wildl Serv Occasional Paper. 2004;109.Google Scholar
  13. Mallory ML, Fontaine AJ, Smith PA, Wiebe Robertson MO, Gilchrist HG. Water chemistry of ponds on Southampton Island, Nunavut, Canada: effects of habitat and ornithogenic inputs. Arch Hydrobiol. 2006;166:411–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Michelutti N, Keatley BE, Brimble S, Blais JM, Liu H, Douglas MSV, Mallory ML, MacDonald RW, Smol JP. Seabird-driven shifts in Arctic pond ecosystems. Proc R Soc Lond B. 2009;276:591–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Michelutti N, Brash J, Thienpont J, Blais JM, Kimpe L, Mallory ML, Douglas MSV, Smol JP. Trophic position influences the efficacy of seabirds as contaminant biovectors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010;107:10543–8.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. Roosens L, Van Den Brink N, Riddle M, Blust R, Neels H, Covaci A. Penguin colonies as secondary sources of contamination with persistent organic pollutants. J Environ Monit. 2007;9:822–5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Coastal Wetland Ecosystems, Biology DepartmentAcadia UniversityWolfvilleCanada

Personalised recommendations