Temporal Trends of Contaminants in the Eggs of Two Aquatic Bird Species Collected from the St. Lawrence (1969-ongoing).

Temporal Trends of Contaminants in the Eggs of Two Aquatic Bird Species Collected from the St. Lawrence (1969-ongoing). Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has been monitoring levels of persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals in seabird eggs collected from the St. Lawrence River and Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada, since the end of 1960s. Two sentinel species were selected to monitor aquatic ecosystem health and contamination based on their elevated position in the food web and relatively limited feeding range; the northern gannet (Morus bassanus) and the great blue heron (Ardea herodias) (Champoux et al., 2002; 2006; 2010; 2015; 2016 – available in supplemental information section *). Current avian monitoring is completed as part of the St. Lawrence Action Plan (2011-2026), a Canada-Quebec agreement that aims to conserve, restore, protect, and enhance the St. Lawrence (http://planstlaurent.qc.ca/en.html). Pollutants monitored include legacy organochlorine pesticides (e.g. DDT, dieldrin, and mirex), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), brominated flame retardants (e.g. polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and hexabromocyclododecane), dioxins and furans, and metals (mercury and selenium). Some of these compounds are now regulated under various national (the Canadian Environmental Protection Act http://www.ec.gc.ca/lcpe-cepa/) and international conventions; for example, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (http://chm.pops.int/TheConvention/Overview/tabid/3351/), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution Protocols (http://www.unece.org/env/treaties/welcome.html), and the Minamata Convention on Mercury (http://www.mercuryconvention.org/). Freshly laid eggs were collected at Bonaventure Island, home to a large colony comprised of approximately 120,000 northern gannets, situated off the coast of the Gaspé Peninsula. Great blue heron eggs were sampled from over 30 colonies spanning the length of the St. Lawrence from Cornwall, ON to the Gulf (see attached map files for gannet and heron sampling locations*). Eggs were further processed either individually or as a single pool for chemical analyses, and archived in the National Wildlife Specimen Bank at the National Wildlife Research Centre (Ottawa, ON). Overall, levels of organochlorines, PCBs, and mercury in gannet eggs have declined through time, and those levels that were still detected, were well below the threshold levels for adverse effects on reproduction and embryo development (Champoux et al., 2015). Similarly, levels of brominated flame retardants, dioxins and furans in gannet eggs also appear to be decreasing over time (Champoux et al., 2016). Levels of organochlorines, PCBs, mercury and brominated flame retardants declined in great blue heron eggs in most regions along the St. Lawrence River (Champoux et al., 2002; 2006; 2010; Champoux and Boily in preparation). Levels of contaminants in heron eggs are below threshold levels known to cause adverse effects in wildlife, however, the presence of anthropogenic contaminants at low levels may still constitute a risk for wildlife health when the cumulative effects of other environmental stressors like climate change, food availability, disturbance and habitat loss are accounted for (Champoux et al., 2002). In addition to measuring contaminants, naturally-occurring stable isotopes of nitrogen (N15/N14 or delta 15N) and carbon (C13/C12 or delta 13C) were also measured in eggs of both species to verify whether shifts in trophic position and foraging area, respectively, could influence levels and trends of contaminants measured in eggs (Champoux et al., 2015). To date, in gannet eggs, no temporal trends have been observed, however both positive and negative temporal trends were observed in delta 15N delta 13C ratios in heron eggs, in various sections of the River (Champoux and Boily in preparation). Stable isotopes will continue to be monitored in tandem with egg contaminants monitoring. Supplemental Information St. Lawrence Action Plan 2011-2026: http://planstlaurent.qc.ca/en.html Canadian Environmental Protection Act: http://www.ec.gc.ca/lcpe-cepa/ Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants: http://chm.pops.int/TheConvention/Overview/tabid/3351/ United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution Protocols: http://www.unece.org/env/treaties/welcome.html Minamata Convention on Mercury: http://www.mercuryconvention.org/ Champoux, L., Rodrigue, J., Desgranges, J-L., Trudeau, S., Hontela, A., Boily, M., Spear, P. 2002. Assessment of contamination and biomarker responses in two species of herons on the st. Lawrence river. Environ. Monit. Assess. 79,193-215. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12413303 Champoux, L., Rodrigue, J., Trudeau, S., Boily, M.H., Spear, P.A., Hontela, A. 2006. Contamination and biomarkers in the great blue heron, an indicator of the state of the st. Lawrence river. Ecotoxicology 15,83-96. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16400530 Champoux, L., Moisey, J., Muir, D.C.G. 2010. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, toxaphenes, and other halogenated organic pollutants in great blue heron eggs. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 29(2), 243-249. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20821441 Champoux, L., Rail, J-F., Lavoie, R.A., Hobson, K.A. 2015. Temporal trends of mercury, organochlorines and PCBs in northern gannet (Morus bassanus) eggs from Bonaventure Island, Gulf of St. Lawrence, 1969-2009. Environ. Pollut. 197, 13-20. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749114004618 Champoux, L., Rail, J-F., Lavoie, R.A. 2017. Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, dibenzofurans and flame retardants in Northern gannet (Morus bassanus) eggs from Bonaventure Island, Gulf of St. Lawrence, 1994-2014. Environ. Pollut. 222, 600-608 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749116313458 2023-10-14 Environment and Climate Change Canada enviroinfo@ec.gc.ca Nature and EnvironmentToxicologyNorthern gannetsGreat Blue HeronMercuryOCsPCBsDioxins and FuransBrominated Flame RetardantsToxaphenesStable IsotopesBonaventure IslandSt. Lawrence RiverTemporal TrendsToxicologyTrophic Position St.Lawrence Northern Gannet Contaminants Monitoring Site Map.pdfPDF https://data-donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/substances/monitor/temporal-trends-of-contaminants-in-the-eggs-of-two-aquatic-bird-species-collected-from-the-st.-lawrence-1969-ongoing/St.Lawrence_Northern_Gannet_Contaminants_Monitoring_Site_Map.pdf St Lawrence Great Blue Heron Contaminants Monitoring Sites.pdfPDF https://data-donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/substances/monitor/temporal-trends-of-contaminants-in-the-eggs-of-two-aquatic-bird-species-collected-from-the-st.-lawrence-1969-ongoing/St_Lawrence_Great_Blue_Heron_Contaminants_Monitoring_Sites.pdf Great Blue Heron Brominated Flame Retardants_Grand Héron retardateurs de flamme bromés.csvCSV https://data-donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/substances/monitor/temporal-trends-of-contaminants-in-the-eggs-of-two-aquatic-bird-species-collected-from-the-st.-lawrence-1969-ongoing-./Great_Blue_Heron_Brominated_Flame_Retardants_Grand_Hron_retardateurs_de_flamme_broms.csv Great Blue Heron Non-ortho PCBs_Grand Héron BPCs non ortho.csvCSV https://data-donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/substances/monitor/temporal-trends-of-contaminants-in-the-eggs-of-two-aquatic-bird-species-collected-from-the-st.-lawrence-1969-ongoing/Great_Blue_Heron_Non-ortho_PCBs_Grand_Hron_BPCs_non_ortho.csv Great Blue Heron Organochlorines_Grand Héron Organochlorés.csvCSV https://data-donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/substances/monitor/temporal-trends-of-contaminants-in-the-eggs-of-two-aquatic-bird-species-collected-from-the-st.-lawrence-1969-ongoing/Great_Blue_Heron_Organochlorines_Grand_Hron_Organochlors.csv Great Blue Heron PCBs_Grand Héron BPCs.csvCSV https://data-donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/substances/monitor/temporal-trends-of-contaminants-in-the-eggs-of-two-aquatic-bird-species-collected-from-the-st.-lawrence-1969-ongoing/Great_Blue_Heron_PCBs_Grand_Hron_BPCs.csv Great Blue Heron PCDDs and PCDFs_Grand Héron dioxines et furans polychlorés.csvCSV https://data-donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/substances/monitor/temporal-trends-of-contaminants-in-the-eggs-of-two-aquatic-bird-species-collected-from-the-st.-lawrence-1969-ongoing/Great_Blue_Heron_PCDDs_and_PCDFs_Grand_Hron_dioxines_et_furans_polychlors.csv Great Blue Heron stable isotopes_Grand Héron isotopes stables.csvCSV https://data-donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/substances/monitor/temporal-trends-of-contaminants-in-the-eggs-of-two-aquatic-bird-species-collected-from-the-st.-lawrence-1969-ongoing/Great_Blue_Heron_stable_isotopes_Grand_Hron_isotopes_stables.csv Great Blue Heron Total Hg_Grand Héron Total de Hg.csvCSV https://data-donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/substances/monitor/temporal-trends-of-contaminants-in-the-eggs-of-two-aquatic-bird-species-collected-from-the-st.-lawrence-1969-ongoing/Great_Blue_Heron_Total_Hg_Grand_Hron_Total_de_Hg.csv Great Blue Heron Toxaphenes_Grand Héron Toxaphènes.csvCSV https://data-donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/substances/monitor/temporal-trends-of-contaminants-in-the-eggs-of-two-aquatic-bird-species-collected-from-the-st.-lawrence-1969-ongoing-./Great_Blue_Heron_Toxaphenes_Grand_Hron_Toxaphnes.csv Northern Gannet Brominated Flame Retardants_Fou de Bassan retardateurs de flamme bromés.csvCSV https://data-donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/substances/monitor/temporal-trends-of-contaminants-in-the-eggs-of-two-aquatic-bird-species-collected-from-the-st.-lawrence-1969-ongoing/Northern_Gannet_Brominated_Flame_Retardants_Fou_de_Bassan_retardateurs_de_flamme_broms.csv Northern Gannet Metals_Fou de Bassan Métaux.csvCSV https://data-donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/substances/monitor/temporal-trends-of-contaminants-in-the-eggs-of-two-aquatic-bird-species-collected-from-the-st.-lawrence-1969-ongoing/Northern_Gannet_Metals_Fou_de_Bassan_Mtaux.csv Northern Gannet Non-ortho PCBs_Fou de Bassan BPC non-ortho.csvCSV https://data-donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/substances/monitor/temporal-trends-of-contaminants-in-the-eggs-of-two-aquatic-bird-species-collected-from-the-st.-lawrence-1969-ongoing/Northern_Gannet_Non-ortho_PCBs_Fou_de_Bassan_BPC_non-ortho.csv Northern Gannet Organochlorines_Fou de Bassan Organochlorés.csvCSV https://data-donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/substances/monitor/temporal-trends-of-contaminants-in-the-eggs-of-two-aquatic-bird-species-collected-from-the-st.-lawrence-1969-ongoing/Northern_Gannet_Organochlorines_Fou_de_Bassan_Organochlors.csv Northern Gannet PCBs_Fou de Bassan BPCs.csvCSV https://data-donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/substances/monitor/temporal-trends-of-contaminants-in-the-eggs-of-two-aquatic-bird-species-collected-from-the-st.-lawrence-1969-ongoing/Northern_Gannet_PCBs_Fou_de_Bassan_BPCs.csv Northern Gannet PCDDs and PCDFs_Fou de Bassan dioxines et furan polychlorés.csvCSV https://data-donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/substances/monitor/temporal-trends-of-contaminants-in-the-eggs-of-two-aquatic-bird-species-collected-from-the-st.-lawrence-1969-ongoing/Northern_Gannet_PCDDs_and_PCDFs_Fou_de_Bassan_dioxines_et_furan_polychlors.csv Northern Gannet stable isotopes_Fou de Bassan isotopes stables.csvCSV https://data-donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/substances/monitor/temporal-trends-of-contaminants-in-the-eggs-of-two-aquatic-bird-species-collected-from-the-st.-lawrence-1969-ongoing/Northern_Gannet_stable_isotopes_Fou_de_Bassan_isotopes_stables.csv View ECCC Data Mart (English)HTML https://data-donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/substances/monitor/temporal-trends-of-contaminants-in-the-eggs-of-two-aquatic-bird-species-collected-from-the-st.-lawrence-1969-ongoing/ View ECCC Data Mart (French)HTML https://data-donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/substances/monitor/temporal-trends-of-contaminants-in-the-eggs-of-two-aquatic-bird-species-collected-from-the-st.-lawrence-1969-ongoing/?lang=fr

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has been monitoring levels of persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals in seabird eggs collected from the St. Lawrence River and Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada, since the end of 1960s. Two sentinel species were selected to monitor aquatic ecosystem health and contamination based on their elevated position in the food web and relatively limited feeding range; the northern gannet (Morus bassanus) and the great blue heron (Ardea herodias) (Champoux et al., 2002; 2006; 2010; 2015; 2016 – available in supplemental information section *).

           Current avian monitoring is completed as part of the St. Lawrence Action Plan (2011-2026), a Canada-Quebec agreement that aims to conserve, restore, protect, and enhance the St. Lawrence (http://planstlaurent.qc.ca/en.html). Pollutants monitored include legacy organochlorine pesticides (e.g. DDT, dieldrin, and mirex), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), brominated flame retardants (e.g. polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and hexabromocyclododecane), dioxins and furans, and metals (mercury and selenium). Some of these compounds are now regulated under various national (the Canadian Environmental Protection Act http://www.ec.gc.ca/lcpe-cepa/) and international conventions; for example, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (http://chm.pops.int/TheConvention/Overview/tabid/3351/), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution Protocols (http://www.unece.org/env/treaties/welcome.html), and the Minamata Convention on Mercury (http://www.mercuryconvention.org/).


           Freshly laid eggs were collected at Bonaventure Island, home to a large colony comprised of approximately 120,000 northern gannets, situated off the coast of the Gaspé Peninsula. Great blue heron eggs were sampled from over 30 colonies spanning the length of the St. Lawrence from Cornwall, ON to the Gulf (see attached map files for gannet and heron sampling locations*). Eggs were further processed either individually or as a single pool for chemical analyses, and archived in the National Wildlife Specimen Bank at the National Wildlife Research Centre (Ottawa, ON).


           Overall, levels of organochlorines, PCBs, and mercury in gannet eggs have declined through time, and those levels that were still detected, were well below the threshold levels for adverse effects on reproduction and embryo development (Champoux et al., 2015). Similarly, levels of brominated flame retardants, dioxins and furans in gannet eggs also appear to be decreasing over time (Champoux et al., 2016). Levels of organochlorines, PCBs, mercury and brominated flame retardants declined in great blue heron eggs in most regions along the St. Lawrence River (Champoux et al., 2002; 2006; 2010; Champoux and Boily in preparation). Levels of contaminants in heron eggs are below threshold levels known to cause adverse effects in wildlife, however, the presence of anthropogenic contaminants at low levels may still constitute a risk for wildlife health when the cumulative effects of other environmental stressors like climate change, food availability, disturbance and habitat loss are accounted for (Champoux et al., 2002).


           In addition to measuring contaminants, naturally-occurring stable isotopes of nitrogen (N15/N14 or delta 15N) and carbon (C13/C12 or delta 13C) were also measured in eggs of both species to verify whether shifts in trophic position and foraging area, respectively, could influence levels and trends of contaminants measured in eggs (Champoux et al., 2015). To date, in gannet eggs, no temporal trends have been observed, however both positive and negative temporal trends were observed in delta 15N delta 13C ratios in heron eggs, in various sections of the River (Champoux and Boily in preparation). Stable isotopes will continue to be monitored in tandem with egg contaminants monitoring.

Supplemental Information

St. Lawrence Action Plan 2011-2026: http://planstlaurent.qc.ca/en.html

           Canadian Environmental Protection Act: http://www.ec.gc.ca/lcpe-cepa/


           Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants: http://chm.pops.int/TheConvention/Overview/tabid/3351/


           United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution Protocols: http://www.unece.org/env/treaties/welcome.html


           Minamata Convention on Mercury: http://www.mercuryconvention.org/


           Champoux, L., Rodrigue, J., Desgranges, J-L., Trudeau, S., Hontela, A., Boily, M., Spear, P. 2002. Assessment of contamination and biomarker responses in two species of herons on the st. Lawrence river. Environ. Monit. Assess. 79,193-215.

           https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12413303


           Champoux, L., Rodrigue, J., Trudeau, S., Boily, M.H., Spear, P.A., Hontela, A. 2006. Contamination and biomarkers in the great blue heron, an indicator of the state of the st. Lawrence river. Ecotoxicology 15,83-96.

           https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16400530


           Champoux, L., Moisey, J., Muir, D.C.G. 2010. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, toxaphenes, and other halogenated organic pollutants in great blue heron eggs. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 29(2), 243-249.

           https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20821441


           Champoux, L., Rail, J-F., Lavoie, R.A., Hobson, K.A. 2015. Temporal trends of mercury, organochlorines and PCBs in northern gannet (Morus bassanus) eggs from Bonaventure Island, Gulf of St. Lawrence, 1969-2009. Environ. Pollut. 197, 13-20.

           http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749114004618


           Champoux, L., Rail, J-F., Lavoie, R.A. 2017. Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, dibenzofurans and flame retardants in Northern gannet (Morus bassanus) eggs from Bonaventure Island, Gulf of St. Lawrence, 1994-2014. Environ. Pollut. 222, 600-608

           http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749116313458

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