USGS Alaska Tissue Archival Projects: An update on FY02 activities

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Abstract

The banking of environmental specimens under cryogenic conditions for future retrospective analysis has been recognized for many years as an important part of environmental monitoring programs. Since 1987, the Alaska Marine Mammal Tissue Archival Project (AMMTAP) has been collecting tissue samples from marine mammals for archival in the National Biomonitoring Specimen Bank (NBSB) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA. The USGS, Alaska Biological Science Center (ABSC), the NOAA Fisheries, Office of Protected Resources (NMFS), and the NIST conduct this partnership project, which began under the Mineral Management Service (MMS) Outer Continental Shelf Environmental Assessment Program. MMS remains the primary client agency for the AMMTAP providing programmatic guidance and review. The purpose of the project is to collect tissue samples from Alaska marine mammals and to store these specimens under the best conditions so that they can be analyzed for environmental contaminants and other constituents. A substantial part of the sample collection is from Arctic species and, since most of the animals sampled are from Alaska Native subsistence harvests, the project relies on cooperation and collaboration with several Alaska Native organizations and local governmental agencies.

Although a substantial amount of recent research has been conducted on contaminants in Alaskan marine mammals, few data exists on colonial seabirds nesting in Alaska. Like marine mammals, seabirds are an important group of upper trophic level marine organisms with a potential for accumulating lipophilic contaminants and are identified by MMS as species of interest for monitoring activities. More than 95% of the seabirds breeding in the continental United States nest at colonies in the Bering and Chukchi seas and Gulf of Alaska (see USFWS 1992). Realizing the value of colonial seabirds in environmental monitoring and the lack of recent data from Alaskan seabird colonies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge (USFWS-AMNWR), the U.S. Geological Survey Biological Resources Division (USGS-BRD), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) initiated the Seabird Tissue Archival and Monitoring Project (STAMP) in 1998. The project was designed as a 100-year-long program to monitor long-term trends in environmental quality by collecting eggs at nesting colonies using standardized protocols, banking the egg contents under conditions that ensure chemical stability during long-term (decadal) storage, and analyzing subsamples of the stored material to establish baseline levels for persistent bioaccumulative contaminants (e.g., chlorinated pesticides, PCBs, mercury).

Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title USGS Alaska Tissue Archival Projects: An update on FY02 activities
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher Minerals Management Service
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center
Description 3 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title Ninth information transfer meeting and Barrow information update meeting: Final proceedings (MMS 2003-042)
First page 63
Last page 65
Conference Title Ninth Information Transfer Meeting and Barrow Information Update Meeting
Conference Location Anchorage, AK
Conference Date March 10-12, 2003