Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Antibacterial and anatomical defenses in an oil contaminated, vulnerable seaduck

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


  • Anders Pape Møller, Beijing Normal University, Universite Paris-Saclay
  • ,
  • Karsten Laursen
  • Jorge Izaguirre, University of Extremadura
  • ,
  • Alfonso Marzal, University of Extremadura

Oil spills have killed thousands of birds during the last 100 years, but nonlethal effects of oil spills on birds remain poorly studied. We measured phenotype characters in 819 eiders Somateria mollissima (279 whole birds and 540 wings) of which 13.6% were oiled. We tested the hypotheses that (a) the morphology of eiders does not change due to oil contamination; (b) the anatomy of organs reflects the physiological reaction to contamination, for example, increase in metabolic demand, increase in food intake, and counteracting toxic effects of oil; (c) large locomotion apparatus that facilitates locomotion increases the risk of getting oiled; and (d) individual eiders with a higher production of secretions from the uropygial grand were more likely to have oil on their plumage. We tested whether 19 characters differed between oiled and nonoiled individuals, showing a consistent pattern. The final model retained seven predictor variables showing relationships between eiders contaminated with oil and food consumption, flight, and diving abilities. We tested whether these effects were due to differences in body condition, liver mass, empty gizzard mass, or other characters that could have been affected by impaired flight and diving ability. There was no evidence of such negative impact of oiling on eiders. We found that significant exposure to oil was associated with increased diversity of antibacterial defense. Oiled eiders did not constitute a random sample, and superior diving ability as reflected by large foot area was at a selective disadvantage during oil spills. Thus, specific characteristics predispose eiders to oiling, with an adaptation to swimming, diving, and flying being traded against the costs of oiling. In contrast, individuals with a high degree of physiological plasticity may experience an advantage because their uropygial secretions counteract the effects of oil contamination.

TidsskriftEcology and Evolution
Sider (fra-til)12520-12528
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - sep. 2021

Se relationer på Aarhus Universitet Citationsformater

ID: 224051099