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Undergraduate Research Project Management System

Contaminant Distribution along the Aleutian Islands in Seabirds

Status Complete
Seeking Researchers No
Start Date 12/01/2012
End Date 07/01/2013
Funding Source Undergraduate Research Grant
Funding Amount
Community Partner
Related Course
Last Updated 01/30/2013 01:28PM
Keywords seabirds, contaminant, aleutian

People

Faculty
  Douglas Causey

Student Researchers
  Brittney Spurlock

Abstract

Inorganic contaminants such as phthalates from plastics, heavy metals, and
organic contaminants such as PCBs in the environment pose serious health risks to
humans. These contaminants are found globally in water, air, animal populations and
consumer products. Plastic and heavy metal contaminants have both been documented as
endocrine disrupters, which can have serious developmental and health risks. This study proposes to quantify concentrations of organic, inorganic, and plastic contaminants in liver and muscle tissue from seabirds collected in the western Aleutian Islands. Seabirds serve as model biomonitors in the ecosystems of the western Aleutian Islands because they are top predators in the food web, and contaminant levels in their tissues can reflect the degree and extent of pollution. This information will provide a baseline of knowledge about contaminant levels in the Western Aleutians, and provide an indication of human impact on areas perceived to be relatively untouched. Data collected on contaminant levels will be analyzed to determine if there is any correlation between contaminant level and geographical location along the Aleutians. It is expected that islands farther West on
the Aleutians will have higher contaminant levels than islands farther east due to higher exposure from ocean currents flowing from Asia.

Specific Aim #I : Quantify heavy metal, PCB, and phthalate levels in sea bird liver tissue.
Specific Aim #2: Analyze data for correlations between contaminant levels and
geographical location.
Specific Aim #3: Poster for presentation of results.
Specific Aim #4: Generate a paper for publication.

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