[MARMAM] New publication on toxicants in whale scat - modulation by prey abundance and reproductive factors

Jessica Lundin jlundin2 at uw.edu
Tue Jun 21 12:44:56 PDT 2016

Our manuscript was published in the current issue of Environmental Science
and Technology.  This may of interest to the MARMAM community.  Thanks!

Jessica Lundin


Modulation in Persistent Organic Pollutant Concentration and Profile by
Prey Availability and Reproductive Status in Southern Resident Killer Whale
Scat Samples.

Lundin JI, Ylitalo GM, Booth RK, Anulacion B, Hempelmann JA, Parsons KM,
Giles DA, Seely EA, Hanson MB, Emmons CK, Wasser SK.

Environ Sci Technol., 2016, 50 (12), pp 6506–6516

Abstract.  Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), specifically PCBs, PBDEs,
and DDTs, in the marine environment are well documented, however
accumulation and mobilization patterns at the top of the food-web are
poorly understood. This study broadens the understanding of POPs in the
endangered Southern Resident killer whale population by addressing
modulation by prey availability and reproductive status, along with
endocrine disrupting effects. A total of 140 killer whale scat samples
collected from 54 unique whales across a 4 year sampling period (2010–2013)
were analyzed for concentrations of POPs. Toxicant measures were linked to
pod, age, and birth order in genotyped individuals, prey abundance using
open-source test fishery data, and pregnancy status based on hormone
indices from the same sample. Toxicant concentrations were highest and had
the greatest potential for toxicity when prey abundance was the lowest. In
addition, these toxicants were likely from endogenous lipid stores.
Bioaccumulation of POPs increased with age, with the exception of presumed
nulliparous females. The exceptional pattern may be explained by females
experiencing unobserved neonatal loss. Transfer of POPs through
mobilization of endogenous lipid stores during lactation was highest for
first-borns with diminished transfer to subsequent calves. Contrary to
expectation, POP concentrations did not demonstrate an associated
disruption of thyroid hormone, although this association may have been
masked by impacts of prey abundance on thyroid hormone concentrations. The
noninvasive method for measuring POP concentrations in killer whales
through scat employed in this study may improve toxicant monitoring in the
marine environment and promote conservation efforts.
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