Volume 48, No. 1

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Trace metals (Hg, Pb, and Cd) in feathers of four Galapagos waterbird species


1 Departamento de Ingeniería Química, Colegio de Ciencias e Ingenierías - El Politécnico, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Quito, Ecuador
2 Charles Darwin Research Station, Charles Darwin Foundation, Puerto Ayora, Galapagos, Ecuador *(
3 Instituto de Biomedicina, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Quito, Ecuador
4 Carrera de Medicina Veterinaria - Universidad Nacional de Loja (UNL). Loja, Ecuador
5 Escuela de Medicina Veterinaria, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Quito, Ecuador
6 Dirección Parque Nacional Galapagos, Islas Galapagos, Ecuador


JIMÉNEZ, E.S., JIMÉNEZ-UZCÁTEGUI, G., EGAS, D.A., SOLIS, N., CARRERA-JÁTIVA, P., VINUEZA, R.L., COTÍN, J., NIETO, A., GARCÍA, C., SEVILLA, C. & RUEDA, D. 2020. 2020. Trace metals (Hg, Pb, and Cd) in feathers of four Galapagos waterbird species. Marine Ornithology 48: 85 - 89

Received 30 May 2019, accepted 12 September 2019

Date Published: 2020/04/15
Date Online: 2019/03/30
Key words: Flightless Cormorant, Galapagos Penguin, Galapagos Flamingo, Waved Albatross, heavy metals, pollution, wildlife surveillance


Contamination by anthropogenic heavy metals can produce significant concentration-dependent damage to ecosystems. Therefore, we sought to determine levels of heavy metals and their possible origins by analyzing the feathers of four endangered Galapagos species: Galapagos Penguin Spheniscus mendiculus, Flightless Cormorant Phalacrocorax harrisi, Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata, and American Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber from the Galapagos Archipelago. Feathers were collected using non-invasive procedures, and calibration curves were used to measure heavy metals via electrochemical methods for mercury (Hg) and spectroscopic methods for lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd). Pb and Cd were detected in flamingo feathers with no attributable anthropogenic or near-island origin. Hg was not found in any of the analyzed species. It is important to continue monitoring the presence of heavy metals in these endangered species, with a minimum frequency of five years, to facilitate their long-term conservation on the Galapagos Islands.


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