Effects of injected methylmercury on the hatching of common loon (Gavia immer) eggs

By: , and 



To determine the level of in ovo methylmercury (MeHg) exposure that results in detrimental effects on fitness and survival of loon embryos and hatched chicks, we conducted a field study in which we injected eggs with various doses of MeHg on day 4 of incubation. Eggs were collected following about 23 days of natural incubation and artificially incubated to observe hatching. Reduced embryo survival was evident in eggs injected at a rate of ≥1.3 μg Hg/g wet-mass. When maternally deposited Hg and injected Hg were considered together, the median lethal concentration of Hg (LC50) was estimated to be 1.78 μg Hg/g wet-mass. Organ mass patterns from eggs of chicks injected at a rate of 2.9 μg Hg/g differed from that of controls and chicks from the 0.5 μg Hg/g treatment, largely related to a negative relation between yolk sac mass and egg mercury concentration. Chicks from eggs in the 2.9 μg Hg/g treatment were also less responsive to a frightening stimulus than controls and chicks from the 0.5 μg Hg/g treatment. We also found that the length of incubation period increased with increasing egg mercury concentration. Tissue Hg concentrations were strongly associated (r 2 ≥ 0.80) with egg Hg concentration.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effects of injected methylmercury on the hatching of common loon (Gavia immer) eggs
Series title Ecotoxicology
DOI 10.1007/s10646-011-0743-9
Volume 20
Issue 7
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
Description 10 p.
First page 1684
Last page 1693
Country United States
State Wisconsin
County Forest County, Iron County, Oneida County, Vilas County
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details