Proposed Abstract Title

Oil spill vulnerability of marine birds: Combining telemetry and biomarker data to assess exposure risk to hydrocarbons

Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

Fossil Fuel Export Through the Salish Sea- Impacts of Trains and Ships

Location

2016SSEC

Description

Nearshore marine habitats of coastal British Columbia (BC) are used by large numbers of numerous species of marine birds. These habitats span a range of contemporary hydrocarbon pollution levels, and represent areas susceptible to catastrophic or chronic hydrocarbon pollution in the future. Our ability to understand ecological consequences of contemporary and potential future hydrocarbon pollution is limited by our lack of knowledge of the movement ecology of birds and how that corresponds to the spatial extent and degree of hydrocarbon pollution.

Using Barrow’s goldeneye (Bucephala islandica), a species known to be susceptible to oil pollution, we modelled ecological risk by pairing satellite telemetry data with biomarker expressions of hydrocarbon exposure obtained from overwintering individuals. In winter, goldeneyes congregate along sheltered coastlines throughout the Salish Sea, feeding primarily on blue mussels (Mytilus spp.). Mussels are known to accumulate hydrocarbons that can be transferred to goldeneyes through diet. We predicted that, if goldeneyes showed high site fidelity, individuals with associations to industrialized coastlines would have higher hydrocarbon exposure. Conversely, broader scale movements would result in more homogenized exposure risk.

We determined that goldeneyes routinely moved between industrialized and less-polluted sites in Burrard Inlet, and thus all individuals in the region are more risk of elevated hydrocarbon exposure. This was consistent with our finding that cytochrome P450 expression in goldeneyes was higher, and associated with the degree and distribution of hydrocarbon concentration in blue mussels in this region, compared to pristine sites sampled in northern BC.

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Oil spill vulnerability of marine birds: Combining telemetry and biomarker data to assess exposure risk to hydrocarbons

2016SSEC

Nearshore marine habitats of coastal British Columbia (BC) are used by large numbers of numerous species of marine birds. These habitats span a range of contemporary hydrocarbon pollution levels, and represent areas susceptible to catastrophic or chronic hydrocarbon pollution in the future. Our ability to understand ecological consequences of contemporary and potential future hydrocarbon pollution is limited by our lack of knowledge of the movement ecology of birds and how that corresponds to the spatial extent and degree of hydrocarbon pollution.

Using Barrow’s goldeneye (Bucephala islandica), a species known to be susceptible to oil pollution, we modelled ecological risk by pairing satellite telemetry data with biomarker expressions of hydrocarbon exposure obtained from overwintering individuals. In winter, goldeneyes congregate along sheltered coastlines throughout the Salish Sea, feeding primarily on blue mussels (Mytilus spp.). Mussels are known to accumulate hydrocarbons that can be transferred to goldeneyes through diet. We predicted that, if goldeneyes showed high site fidelity, individuals with associations to industrialized coastlines would have higher hydrocarbon exposure. Conversely, broader scale movements would result in more homogenized exposure risk.

We determined that goldeneyes routinely moved between industrialized and less-polluted sites in Burrard Inlet, and thus all individuals in the region are more risk of elevated hydrocarbon exposure. This was consistent with our finding that cytochrome P450 expression in goldeneyes was higher, and associated with the degree and distribution of hydrocarbon concentration in blue mussels in this region, compared to pristine sites sampled in northern BC.