The concentration of different persistent organic pollutants (POPs including chlorinated and brominated compounds) and trace metals and metalloids (As, Cd, Cu, Cr, Pb, Hg, Ni, and Zn) was examined in eggs from two colonies of yellow-legged gulls. The two colonies are established in Ría de Vigo, Northwest Spain, with a distance between them of only 10 km, one in Vigo town (industrial and harbour activities) and the other in the Cíes Islands in a Natural Park and Marine Protected Area –MPA- (with no known anthropogenic inputs). Statistically significant differences for the two colonies were observed for Hg, the sum of 7 CBs, the sum of DDTs y and the sum of 9 PBDEs, with values that could be causing some toxic effects in the area of the most anthropogenically influenced colony. The estimated isotopic niche was also calculated, based on δ15N and δ13C, for the two colonies, pointing to a wider diet in the Cíes colony when compared to the diet in the Vigo colony. The study supports the use of the yellow-legged seagull eggs as a bioindicator of pollution capable of differentiating pollution level even in geographically close areas.
Concentrations of 7 different polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners, and eleven organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and metabolites, including DDTs (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), HCHs (hexachlorocyclohexane isomers), Endosulfan, Endosulfan sulfate, Endrin, Dieldrin and HCB (hexachlorobenzene), were determined in adipose tissue of 57 yellow-legged gulls collected from NW and N Spain. Furthermore, the possible differences due to two endogenous factors, age and gender, were determined. All the analyzed PCBs were detected in over 66% of the samples, with levels of 291.9 (PCB 180), 34.5 (PCB 118), 0.7 (PCB 28), 432.6 (PCB 153), 225.5 (PCB 138), 1.3 (PCB 101) and 0.4 (PCB 52) µg/kg of adipose tissue. With respect to the OCPs and metabolites, only 4,4′-DDE and HCB were detected in more than 50% of the samples, with means of 360.6 and 2.5 µg/kg of adipose tissue, respectively. From all the considered contaminants, only 4,4′-DDE levels presented significant differences depending on the gender, with females showing higher values than males (p < 0.01). Significant differences (p < 0.001) were also found related to age for the levels of PCBs 180, 138, 101, 28 and 153, as well as 4,4′-DDE, with adult levels being higher than those in young birds. The results of the present study constitute a baseline to better assess the environmental impacts of PCB and OCP contamination at other coastal sites for future biomonitoring studies, with particular emphasis on gender- and age-related differences.