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Pollution and physiological variability in gentoo penguins at two rookeries with different levels of human visitation

  • Andrés Barbosa (a1) (a2), Eva de Mas (a2), Jesús Benzal (a2), Julia Ines Diaz (a3), Miguel Motas (a4), Silvia Jerez (a4), Luis Pertierra (a5), Javier Benayas (a5), Ana Justel (a5), Pilar Lauzurica (a6), Francisco Javier Garcia-Peña (a7) and Tania Serrano (a7)...

Abstract

Human activity and specifically tourism has been increasing in Antarctica over the last few years. Few studies have examined the indirect effects of human visits on Antarctic penguin rookeries. This work aims to study the differences between a highly visited (Hannah Point) and a rarely visited (Devil's Point, Byers Peninsula) gentoo penguin rookery on Livingston Island. Our results suggest that potential indirect effects of human impact are observed in gentoo penguins at Hannah Point, a colony heavily visited by tourists. Penguins at Hannah Point showed a higher presence of heavy metals such as Pb and Ni and a higher number of erythrocytic nuclear abnormalities than penguins at Devil's Point. Immunological parameters showed different results depending on whether we consider the cellular response - the number of lymphocytes being higher in penguins from Hannah Point - or the humoral response - the level of immunoglobulins being higher in penguins from Devil's Point. Measurements of corticosterone levels in feathers and heterophil/lymphocyte (H/L) ratio in blood showed lower levels in the heavily visited rookery than in the rarely visited rookery. Finally, we did not detect Campylobacter jejuni, a bacteria potentially transmitted by humans in either of the populations and we did not find any difference in the prevalence of Campylobacter lari between the populations.

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Keywords

Pollution and physiological variability in gentoo penguins at two rookeries with different levels of human visitation

  • Andrés Barbosa (a1) (a2), Eva de Mas (a2), Jesús Benzal (a2), Julia Ines Diaz (a3), Miguel Motas (a4), Silvia Jerez (a4), Luis Pertierra (a5), Javier Benayas (a5), Ana Justel (a5), Pilar Lauzurica (a6), Francisco Javier Garcia-Peña (a7) and Tania Serrano (a7)...

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