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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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