Forsøksdyr: Effect of pollution on the reproductive energetics of the Arctic tern in the Barents Sea

Godkjenningsdato 06.07.2018

Godkjenningsperiode 09.07.2018-15.08.2019

We propose to look at the relationship of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and heavy metals to the reproductive energetics of Arctic Terns. We will compare levels of these pollutants, all of which biomagnify in the environment, with both basal metabolic rates (BMR) and field metabolic rates (FMR) of these birds. This is an accepted method for assessing the effect of pollution on an animal. All birds that are captured will be released following the injection of about 1 mL of water and the drawing of small quantities of blood (for pollutants and FMR) or the measurement of oxygen consumption (BMR). All of these techniques produce minimal stress and we anticipate no mortality. Any harm to our birds would undermine our results, and are very respectful of their safety. We expect to need between 20 and 30 Arctic Terns (Sterna arctica) over two summers of work. This bird has been chosen because it feeds lower on the food chain than most seabirds, and because its very long flight to winter in Antarctica requires that its condition not be compromised by the pollutants of the Barents Sea. These characteristics make it impossible to replace with another species. We are mindful of the 3 Rs, but substituting captive terns, were that possible, would eliminate the relationship between the Barents Sea environment and the condition of the birds. Our numbers are based on three things: the need for statistical significance, an appreciation of the sample size that reviewers would demand, and the fact that these birds need to be captured twice and we are likely to fail to make the second capture on some of them. Finally, based on previous work, we believe the stress from this study is minimal. However, we believe that by combining forces with Maarten Loonen, who is also studying the terns, we reduce the impact of our presence in the colonies. If successful, we expect to be able to establish a baseline for the future monitoring of this iconic species of the arctic with respect to both pollution levels and energy demands on the fishery.