Despite their apparent hardiness, shorebirds around the world are declining, including two thirds of Canadian species. Arctic-nesting shorebirds are especially vulnerable, due to the risks associated with their long migration and the increased likelihood of habitat disturbance due to climate change. The causes of shorebird declines remain a mystery, but one hypothesis is exposure to toxic pollutants.
To protect shorebirds and halt their declines, we must find out:
To answer these questions, Anna Hargreaves - a researcher at the Centre for Conservation Research - conducted field work on the remote arctic tundra in the summer of 2008. She is now analyzing the blood, egg, feather and soil samples she obtained while in the field. This study represents the first assessment of pollutants in shorebirds from Canada's Arctic islands, and will provide essential baseline data for future monitoring as well as critical insights into the role of pollutants in North American shorebird declines.
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