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Ecology and conservation of southern giant Petrels (Macronectes giganteus) on King George and Elephant islands, south Shetland, Antarctica: organic and inorganic pollutants and carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes as environmental indicators

Grant number: 12/04383-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2012
Effective date (End): February 29, 2016
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Oceanography - Chemical Oceanography
Principal Investigator:Rosalinda Carmela Montone
Grantee:Fernanda Imperatrice Colabuono
Host Institution: Instituto Oceanográfico (IO). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):12/24218-2 - Persistent organic pollutants in blood samples of southern giant Petrels (Macronectes giganteus) on King George and Elephant islands, south Shetland, Antarctica, BE.EP.PD


The Southern Giant Petrel, Macronectes giganteus, is an important top predator in the South Atlantic and Antarctic Oceans. The largest populations are found on the Falkland, South Georgia and South Shetland Islands, in the latter of which few ecological studies on this species have been carried out. Remote environments, such as the Antarctic Ocean, are subject to the introduction of different classes of pollutants due to the global transport of these compounds through the atmosphere and the circulation of the oceans. Some pollutants are incorporated into the food chain and affect top predators, such as seabirds, through the processes of bioaccumulation and biomagnification. Characteristics such as sexual dimorphism, the segregation of eating habits between males and females, a low reproductive rate, late maturity and high longevity make M. giganteus an ideal species for ecological, trophic sex segregation and environmental contamination studies, playing the role of a bioindicator of exposure to pollutants and demonstrating potential threats to the environment and other animals. Knowledge on the ecology and possible threats to populations of seabirds is fundamental to decision making processes and the guiding of efforts aimed at the conservation of species. Ecological data combined with the determination of levels of contamination by organic and inorganic pollutants allow a better understanding of the influence of diet and other aspects related to exposure to these compounds. The aim of the proposed project is to contribute to the study of the ecology of M. giganteus through an evaluation of stable isotopes and organic and inorganic pollutants in the blood and feathers of this species. Considering the potential of birds as bioindicators of pollution and/or changes in the environment, such a study can provide scientific support to the conservation of populations of the Southern Giant Petrel as well as its breeding grounds and areas of migration. (AU)

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