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An assessment of mercury and its dietary drivers in fur of Arctic wolves from Greenland and High Arctic Canada.

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  • Gabriele Treu, German Fed Environm Agcy UBA, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research
  • ,
  • Mikkel Holger S. Sinding, Grønlands Naturinstitut/Pinngortitaleriffik, University of Copenhagen
  • ,
  • Gábor Á. Czirják, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research
  • ,
  • Rune Dietz
  • Thomas Gräff, Federal Environmental Agency, Germany
  • ,
  • Oliver Krone, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Germany
  • Ulf Marquard-Petersen, Greenland Wolf Research Program
  • ,
  • Johan B Mikkelsen, Slædepatruljen SIRIUS
  • ,
  • Ralf Schulz, University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany
  • Christian Sonne
  • Jens Søndergaard
  • Jiachen Sun, Ocean University of China
  • ,
  • Jochen Zubrod, University of Koblenz-Landau, Zubrod Environmental Data Science
  • ,
  • Igor Eulaers, Norwegian Polar Institute

Mercury has become a ubiquitous hazardous element even ending up in pristine areas such as the Arctic, where it biomagnifies and leaves especially top predators vulnerable to potential health effects. Here we investigate total mercury (THg) concentrations and dietary proxies for trophic position and habitat foraging (δ 15N and δ 13C, respectively) in fur of 30 Arctic wolves collected during 1869–1998 in the Canadian High Arctic and Greenland. Fur THg concentrations (mean ± SD) of 1.46 ± 1.39 μg g −1 dry weight are within the range of earlier reported values for other Arctic terrestrial species. Based on putative thresholds for Hg-mediated toxic health effects, the studied Arctic wolves have most likely not been at compromised health. Dietary proxies show high dietary plasticity among Arctic wolves deriving nutrition from both marine and terrestrial food sources at various trophic positions. Variability in THg concentrations seem to be related to the wolves' trophic position rather than to different carbon sources or regional differences (East Greenland, the Foxe Basin and Baffin Bay area, respectively). Although the present study remains limited due to the scarce, yet unique historic study material and small sample size, it provides novel information on temporal and spatial variation in Hg pollution of remote Arctic species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number156171
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

    Research areas

  • Dietary ecology, Museum collection, Stable isotope, Top predator, risk assessment

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