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Latin american journal of aquatic research

On-line version ISSN 0718-560X


ESPEJO, Winfred et al. Trace metal concentrations and body condition in adult Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) from the western Antarctic Peninsula. Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Res. [online]. 2020, vol.48, n.5, pp.886-894. ISSN 0718-560X.

Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) are seabirds that live exclusively in Antarctica, one of the planet's last pristine areas. However, this remote region is experiencing a continuing expansion of human activities that may affect Antarctic fauna. Trace metals constitute a menace to seabirds because they can adversely affect their health. There is a lack of studies relating to metals' levels in feathers with morphological parameters of seabirds. Trace metal levels were measured in Adélie penguin feathers and their body condition through the relative condition factor (ReCF) in adult individuals from two South Shetland Islands locations and two from Graham Land. Consequently, we determined the levels of some metals in feathers to see any relationship with morphological parameters linked to the bird's health. Our results showed significant differences in metals among locations studied and a significant relationship between ReCF with Cu and Zn in one of the South Shetland Islands. Also, penguins exhibited a significantly lower weight. We found a positive correlation between non-essential with essential metals, indicating that Cu acts as a detoxifying agent for Cr, Cd, and Pb. In contrast, Se could be for V and Pb. Although the relationship between most metals with ReCF was not significant, some site-specific factors may be influencing it, whereas metals may be affecting the organisms at low biological levels. Molecular, biochemical, and genetic studies are required to elucidate this issue.

Keywords : Pygoscelis adeliae; bioaccumulation; heavy metals; body condition; penguins; Antarctica.

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