Dietary mercury exposure to endangered California Clapper Rails in San Francisco Bay

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Abstract

California Clapper Rails (Rallus longirostris obsoletus) are an endangered waterbird that forage in tidal-marsh habitats that pose risks from mercury exposure. We analyzed total mercury (Hg) in six macro-invertebrate and one fish species representing Clapper Rail diets from four tidal-marshes in San Francisco Bay, California. Mercury concentrations among individual taxa ranged from lowest at Colma Creek (mean range: 0.09-0.2. μg/g dw) to highest at Cogswell (0.2-0.7), Laumeister (0.2-0.9) and Arrowhead Marshes (0.3-1.9). These spatial patterns for Hg matched patterns reported previously in Clapper Rail blood from the same four marshes. Over 25% of eastern mudsnails (Ilyanassa obsolete) and staghorn sculpin (Leptocottus armatus) exceeded dietary Hg concentrations (ww) often associated with avian reproductive impairment. Our results indicate that Hg concentrations vary considerably among tidal-marshes and diet taxa, and Hg concentrations of prey may provide an appropriate proxy for relative exposure risk for Clapper Rails.

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Casazza, M. L., Ricca, M. A., Overton, C. T., Takekawa, J. Y., Merritt, A. M., & Ackerman, J. T. (2014). Dietary mercury exposure to endangered California Clapper Rails in San Francisco Bay. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 86(1–2), 254–260. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2014.07.009

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