Contaminants and energy expenditure in an Arctic seabird: Organochlorine pesticides and perfluoroalkyl substances are associated with metabolic rate in a contrasted manner

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Summer 5-26-2017

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Environmental Research

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Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Ornithology | Physiology


Basal metabolic rate (BMR), the minimal energetic cost of living in endotherms, is known to be influenced by thyroid hormones (THs) which are known to stimulate in vitro oxygen consumption of tissues in birds and mammals. Several environmental contaminants may act on energy expenditure through their thyroid hormone disrupting properties. However, the effect of contaminants on BMR is still poorly documented for wildlife. Here, we investigated the relationships between three groups of contaminants (organochlorines (OCs), perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), and mercury) with metabolic rate (MR), considered here as a proxy of BMR and also with circulating total THs (thyroxine (TT4) and triiodothyronine (TT3)) in Arctic breeding adult black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) from Svalbard, during the chick rearing period. Our results indicate a negative relationship between the sum of all detected chlordanes (ΣCHLs) and MR in both sexes whereas perfluorotridecanoate (PFTrA) and MR were positively related in females only. MR was not associated with mercury. Additionally, levels of TT3 were negatively related to ΣCHLs but not to PFTrA. The findings from the present study indicate that some OCs (in both sexes) and some PFASs (only in females) could disrupt fine adjustment of BMR during reproduction in adult kittiwakes. Importantly, highly lipophilic OCs and highly proteinophilic PFASs appear, at least in females, to have the ability to disrupt the metabolic rate in an opposite way. Therefore, our study highlights the need for ecotoxicological studies to include a large variety of contaminants which can act in an antagonistic manner.


Original publication information:

Blévin, P., S. Tartu, H. I. Ellis, O. Chastel, P. Bustamante, C. Parenteau, D. Herzke, F. Angelier, G. W. Gabrielsen. 2017. Contaminants and energy expendi­ture in an arctic seabird: organochlorine pesticides and perfluoroalkyl substances are associated with basal metabolic rate in a contrasted manner. Environmental Research 157: 118-126.

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