Ecotoxicology of great skuas in the Northeast Atlantic
This project aims to monitor current pollution levels in the near-shore marine environment of the Faeroe Islands. We will take measurement of pollution loads of great skuas Stercorarius skua, a top predator in the marine environment of the western North Atlantic. The project also aims to validate non-destructive tissue sampling to the monitoring of the main persistent organic pollutants in that environment. Feathers are a promising tissue that can be sample non-destructively and has good scope to inform on the birds' pollution load. We will also investigate how ecological factors such as diet specialisation influence pollution load in that population. Finally the project will evaluate whether observed pollutant levels in the study population have negative effects on the birds.
Thus this project will provide information of the potential to use non-destructive tissue sampling from great skuas as a proxy of the state of the overall toxicological environment of FaeroenIslands, and whether currently observed pollutant burdens have any ecological impact such as reduced reproductive success on the Faroese great skua population.