We determined the distribution and accumulation of Hg in tissues of common loon (Gavia immer) chicks maintained for up to 15 weeks on either a control diet with no added methylmercury chloride (MeHgCl) or one containing either 0.4 or 1.2 ??g Hg (as MeHgCl)/g wet-weight food. Total Hg and MeHg tissue concentrations were strongly positively correlated (r2 > 0.95) with the amount of Hg delivered to individual chicks throughout the course of the experiment. The pattern of differential Hg concentration in internal tissues was consistent within each treatment: Liver > kidney > muscle > carcass > brain. Feather Hg concentrations were consistently higher than those of internal tissues and represented an important route of Hg elimination. Feather mass accounted for 4.3% ?? 0.1% (average ?? standard error) of body mass, yet 27.3% ?? 2.6% of total Hg intake was excreted into feathers. Our calculations indicate that 26.7% ?? 4.9% of ingested Hg was not accounted for and, thus, either was never absorbed or was absorbed and subsequently eliminated in feces. With the additional excretion into feathers, 54% of ingested Hg was excreted. Demethylation was evident in the liver at all treatment levels and in the kidneys of chicks dosed at 1.2 ??g Hg/g. Mercury concentrations were strongly positively correlated (r2 ??? 0.95) among internal tissues and with blood Hg concentration. Mercury concentrations of secondary feathers were moderately correlated (r2 = 0.82-0.93) with internal tissues. We supply regression models that may be used to provide perspective and a useful means of interpreting the variety of measures of Hg exposure reported in the literature. ?? 2007 SETAC.
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Distribution and accumulation of mercury in tissues of captive-reared common loon (Gavia immer) chicks