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We found up to 10 ppm wet weight of selenium in blood samples collected from emperor geese (Chen canagica) on their breeding grounds on the Yukona??Kuskokwim Delta in western Alaska, USA. Incubating adult females captured in late May through mid-June 1997 had significantly higher concentrations of selenium in their blood (mean = 5.60 ppm) than adult females captured during wing molt in late July 1996 (mean = 2.78 ppm). Females that nested early or were in good body condition had higher concentrations of selenium in their blood than did other nesting females. Blood samples from 4 of 29 goslings had detectable levels of selenium (mean = 0.14 ppm). Our findings suggest that emperor geese are exposed to more selenium in the marine environment of their wintering and staging areas on the Alaska Peninsula than on the breeding grounds. The highest concentration of mercury found in the blood of emperor geese was 0.24 ppm. One bird had a blood lead concentration of 0.67 ppm, but 82% had no detectable lead in their blood, suggesting that lead exposure from the ingestion of lead shot poses little threat for emperor geese in western Alaska, contrary to findings reported for sympatric spectacled eiders (Somateria fischeri).
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Concentrations of selenium, mercury, and lead in blood of emperor geese in western Alaska