Mercury bioaccumulation and effects on birds in San Francisco Bay

By:  and 



  • San Francisco Bay is an important wintering and breeding ground for more than 1 million waterbirds annually
  • Mercury concentrations are highest in birds that eat fish and that reside in the Lower South Bay
  • When Forster’s terns arrive in the Bay in spring to breed, mercury concentrations in their blood increase by four-fold in a six week period
  • Based on mercury concentrations in blood, nearly 60% of all breeding Forster’s terns sampled in the Bay are at high risk of toxic effects
  • One important piece of evidence of impairment of reproduction in Forster’s terns is that average mercury concentrations in failed to-hatch eggs were statistically significantly higher than in randomly selected eggs
  • Avian eggs represent an ideal matrix for assessing bioaccumulation because they are indicative of short-term, localized exposure and are central to predicting risk in multiple lifestages

Study Area

Publication type Report
Title Mercury bioaccumulation and effects on birds in San Francisco Bay
Year Published 2008
Language English
Publisher San Francisco Estuary Institute
Publisher location Oakland, CA
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 9 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Title The pulse of the estuary: Monitoring and managing water quality in the San Francisco estuary
First page 56
Last page 64
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial San Francisco Bay
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details