Dioxins and dl-PCBs in gull eggs from Spanish Natural Parks (2010–2013)

Morales, L., Martrat, M.G.R., Parera, J., Bertolero, A., Ábalos, M., Santos, F.J., Lacorte, S. & Abad, E., 2016. Dioxins and dl-PCBs in gull eggs from Spanish Natural Parks (2010–2013). Science of the Total Environment, 550, pp.114-122.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the presence and distribution of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) and biphenyls (PCBs), concretely those so-called as dioxin-like PCBs, in yellow-legged gull eggs (Larus michahellis) collected from five Natural Parks (some of them National Parks) in Spain during the period 2010–2013. PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs were detected in all the samples. Due to the proximity to important urban and industrial areas higher concentrations were determined in colonies located in the Northern Mediterranean coast than those found in the Southern Mediterranean or Atlantic colonies where a softer anthropogenic impact occurs. Mean ∑ PCDD/F concentrations ranged from 49 to 223 pg/g lipid weight (lw) and ∑ dl-PCB concentrations varied from 146 to 911 ng/g lw. In the Natural Park of the Ebro Delta (Northern Mediterranean coast) two gull species share habitat: yellow-legged and Audouin gull (Larus audouinii). Eggs from both species were collected and PCDD/F and dl-PCB levels compared. The species that feeds exclusively on pelagic fish (L. audouinii) had significantly higher PCDD/F and dl-PCB levels than the scavenger L. michahellis, pointing out the diet-dependent differences in the accumulation of persistent organic pollutants between similar cohabitant breeding species. Finally, mean TEQ values were in general below those considered as critical for toxicological effects in birds.

Monitoring polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon pollution in the marine environment after the Prestige oil spill by means of seabird blood analysis

Pérez, C., Velando, A., Munilla, I., López-Alonso, M. & Oro, D. Monitoring Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Pollution in the marine environment after the Prestige oil spill by means of seabird blood analysis. Environmental Science & Technology 42, 707–713 (2008).


In this studywetested the use of seabird blood as a bioindicator of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) pollution in the marine environment. Blood cells of breeding yellow-legged gulls (Larus michahellis) were able to track spatial and temporal changes consistent with the massive oil pollution pulse that resulted from the Prestige oil spill. Thus, in 2004, blood samples from yellow-legged gulls breeding in colonies that were in the trajectory of the spill doubled in their total PAH concentrations when compared to samples from unoiled colonies. Furthermore, PAH levels in gulls from an oiled colony decreased by nearly a third in two consecutive breeding seasons (2004 and 2005). Experimental evidence was gathered by means of an oil ingestion field experiment. The total concentration of PAHs in the blood of gulls given oil supplements was 30% higher compared to controls. This strongly suggested that measures of PAHs in the blood of gulls are sensitive to the ingestion of small quantities of oil. Our study provides evidence that seabirds were exposed to residual Prestige oil 17 months after the spill commenced and gives support to the nondestructive use of seabirds as biomonitors of oil pollution in marine environments.