Volume 45, No. 2

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Local movements, foraging patterns, and heavy metals exposure in Caspian Terns Hydroprogne caspia breeding on Penguin Island, Western Australia


1 Conservation Council (WA) 2 Delhi Street, West Perth, Western Australia 6005 (
2 Hodges Street, Shoalwater, Western Australia 6169


DUNLOP, J.N. & McNEILL, S. 2017. Local movements, foraging patterns, and heavy metals exposure in Caspian Terns Hydroprogne caspia breeding on Penguin Island, Western Australia. Marine Ornithology 45: 115 - 120

Received 5 December 2016, accepted 10 March 2017

Date Published: 2017/10/15
Date Online: 2017/05/22


Caspian Terns from a breeding colony on Penguin Island in the southern metropolitan coastal waters of Perth, Western Australian, dispersed primarily onto the nearby Peel-Harvey Estuary. The terns preyed on benthic fishes associated with marine seagrass meadows and estuarine shallows. The diet was dominated by detritivores, in particular sea mullet Mugil cephalus and Perth herring Nematalosa vlaminghi. Stable isotope values from adult feathers also indicated the importance of perennial or annual seagrass habitats for foraging. Cadmium and lead levels in feathers were low. However, most breeding adults had elevated levels of mercury in their tail feathers. Mercury concentrations were strongly correlated with δ15N, indicating a link between exposure and the mineralised nitrogen associated with the relative eutrophication of the foraging habitats. Mercury concentrations were strongly correlated with selenium in the adult feathers, suggesting that selenium was being regulated in response to mercury exposure.


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