Changes in mercury and cadmium concentrations and the feeding behaviour of beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) near Somerset Island, Canada, during the 20th century. Outridge, P., M., Hobson, K., a., & Savelle, J., M. The Science of the total environment, 350(1-3):106-18, 11, 2005.
Changes in mercury and cadmium concentrations and the feeding behaviour of beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) near Somerset Island, Canada, during the 20th century. [link]Website  abstract   bibtex   
Beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) continues to be an important food species for Arctic communities, despite concerns about its high mercury (Hg) content. We investigated whether Hg and cadmium (Cd) concentrations had changed during the 20th century in beluga near Somerset Island in the central Canadian Arctic, using well-preserved teeth collected from historical sites (dating to the late 19th century and 1926-1947) and during subsistence hunts in the late 1990s. Mercury concentrations in both historical and modern teeth were correlated with animal age, but 1990s beluga exhibited a significantly more rapid accumulation with age than late 19th century animals, indicating that Hg concentrations or bioavailability in their food chain had increased during the last century. The geometric mean tooth Hg concentration in modern 30 year old animals was 7.7 times higher than in the late 19th century, which corresponds to threefold higher concentrations in muktuk and muscle. Teeth from 1926 to 1947 were similar in Hg content to the late 19th century, suggesting that the increase had occurred sometime after the 1940s. In contrast, tooth Cd was not correlated with animal age and decreased during the last 100 years, indicating that anthropogenic Cd was negligible in this population. Late 19th century beluga displayed a greater range of prey selection (tooth delta15N values: 15.6-20.5 per thousand) than modern animals (delta15N: 17.2-21.1 per thousand). To prevent this difference from confounding the temporal Hg comparison, the Hg-age relationships discussed above were based on historical animals, which overlapped isotopically with the modern group. Tooth delta13C also changed to isotopically more depleted values in modern animals, with the most likely explanation being a significant shift to more pelagic-based feeding. Industrial Hg pollution is a plausible explanation for the recent Hg increase. However, without further investigation of the relationship between the range exploitation of modern beluga and their possible exposure to regional marine food chains with (naturally) higher Hg contents than their historical counterparts, we cannot unequivocally conclude that the increase was anthropogenically driven.
@article{
 title = {Changes in mercury and cadmium concentrations and the feeding behaviour of beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) near Somerset Island, Canada, during the 20th century.},
 type = {article},
 year = {2005},
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 keywords = {Animals,Arctic Regions,Beluga Whale,Beluga Whale: metabolism,Cadmium,Cadmium: analysis,Cadmium: metabolism,Canada,Carbon Isotopes,Environmental Monitoring,Mercury,Mercury: analysis,Mercury: metabolism,Muscles,Muscles: chemistry,Nitrogen Isotopes,Tooth,Tooth: chemistry,Water Pollutants, Chemical,Water Pollutants, Chemical: analysis,Water Pollutants, Chemical: metabolism},
 pages = {106-18},
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 abstract = {Beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) continues to be an important food species for Arctic communities, despite concerns about its high mercury (Hg) content. We investigated whether Hg and cadmium (Cd) concentrations had changed during the 20th century in beluga near Somerset Island in the central Canadian Arctic, using well-preserved teeth collected from historical sites (dating to the late 19th century and 1926-1947) and during subsistence hunts in the late 1990s. Mercury concentrations in both historical and modern teeth were correlated with animal age, but 1990s beluga exhibited a significantly more rapid accumulation with age than late 19th century animals, indicating that Hg concentrations or bioavailability in their food chain had increased during the last century. The geometric mean tooth Hg concentration in modern 30 year old animals was 7.7 times higher than in the late 19th century, which corresponds to threefold higher concentrations in muktuk and muscle. Teeth from 1926 to 1947 were similar in Hg content to the late 19th century, suggesting that the increase had occurred sometime after the 1940s. In contrast, tooth Cd was not correlated with animal age and decreased during the last 100 years, indicating that anthropogenic Cd was negligible in this population. Late 19th century beluga displayed a greater range of prey selection (tooth delta15N values: 15.6-20.5 per thousand) than modern animals (delta15N: 17.2-21.1 per thousand). To prevent this difference from confounding the temporal Hg comparison, the Hg-age relationships discussed above were based on historical animals, which overlapped isotopically with the modern group. Tooth delta13C also changed to isotopically more depleted values in modern animals, with the most likely explanation being a significant shift to more pelagic-based feeding. Industrial Hg pollution is a plausible explanation for the recent Hg increase. However, without further investigation of the relationship between the range exploitation of modern beluga and their possible exposure to regional marine food chains with (naturally) higher Hg contents than their historical counterparts, we cannot unequivocally conclude that the increase was anthropogenically driven.},
 bibtype = {article},
 author = {Outridge, P M and Hobson, K a and Savelle, J M},
 journal = {The Science of the total environment},
 number = {1-3}
}
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